Napa Valley, California, is home to 400+ wineries that have a tasting room. That number jumps to 600+ if you include nearby Sonoma. Although famed for their wineries, Napa Valley and Sonoma also have a significant number of breweries as well. This makes these two California locations tourist destinations, and one might think that in these locations that many of the DUI arrests would be for out-of-towners who have stopped in for a taste-test at a winery or a brewery. Unfortunately, that is not the case at all, as the Press Democrat reports.
A quick search of Press Democrat news in the third week of June revealed that there had been 5 DUI-involved accidents that month. That is a figure of nearly two per week.
Those news reports included an 88-year-old pedestrian killed by a driver suspected of DUI. It also included a crash that resulted in a vehicle fire on Highway 101, sending five people to the hospital. A third DUI-related crash involved a woman with a previous DUI conviction driving down an embankment with her children in the car.
None of these people were tourists who recently completed a visit to a local winery or brewery. These were all Sonoma residents whose last drinks had been at home or at a local bar or restaurant.
Upon reviewing 3,155 California Highway Patrol DUI arrests between 2015 and 2017, half of those drivers answered questions about where they had their last drink before their arrests. The respondents said that they were, on average, five times more likely to be coming from home than from a winery or a brewery.
The same 5-to-1 ratio applied to those answering that they were at a local bar or restaurant versus a winery or a brewery.
This does not mean that wineries and breweries are not a risk factor. They are cornerstones of the area’s tourism industry and the CHP routinely ramps up patrols around the times that these venues have events.