California wine regions have high numbers of fatal DUIs

Posted on in Wrongful Death

The state of California boasts some of the best vineyards in the country and even the world. California is home to 44 percent of the nation's bonded wineries, many of which can be found in the famed wine country areas of Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino counties. But with this claim to fame comes a less positive statistic: a high rate of fatal drunk-driving accidents.

According to the California Office of Traffic Safety, there is a direct correlation between the state's wine regions and the number of people killed in accidents caused by people driving under the influence. Napa County, for instance, ranks ninth out of California's 58 counties when it comes to fatalities resulting from accidents involving drinking and driving.

If you've ever visited a wine tasting room, you might wonder how drinking even a few miniscule 1-ounce samples of wine can possibly lead to the level of intoxication that typically results in a deadly accident. Of course, if you've ever taken an entire tour of wine tasting rooms, the picture gets clearer. Although wine tasting rooms have dump buckets for samplers to dispose of the extra wine they aren't consuming, they're mostly used by aficionados and tasting judges, and almost never by the average visitor. If that visitor goes to a number of wineries, those samples can quickly add up to the equivalent of multiple full glasses. Once a group of wine tasters ventures out on the open road, they put other drivers and passengers at risk.

The best approach to safety on a wine tasting tour is to designate a sober driver, just as you would if you were going out bar hopping. You can also arrange to use one of the bus or limo services that cater to wine tourists. Just remember that eventually, that service will drop you off at your car to drive home. To avoid injuring yourself, your passengers or anyone else on the road, it's your responsibility to ensure that you're safe and sober.

Source:, "Calif: More fatal DUI crashes in wine regions," Oct. 12, 2012

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