Some surprising statistics are coming out of Nelson County, an important part of Virginia's wine and beer trails. Drunk driving arrests have dropped in the county known for its good libations.
The number of wineries and breweries has gone up, but the number of driving under the influence (DUI) charges in Nelson County has gone down. In 2008, there were 79 reported DUI cases in Nelson County. With the end of the year quickly approaching, the count is only up to 27.
According to the Nelson County Sheriff's Office, a combination of awareness, responsibility and stepping up patrols have contributed to this drop.
Bill Mays with the Nelson County Sheriff's Office, said, "State agencies across the state, including our own, have taken a more active approach against DUI and DUI related offenses."
As the DUI laws in Virginia are getting stricter, people seem to be thinking twice before having a glass of wine and picking up their keys. A Virginia law put in place this past July requires that an interlock ignition device is installed on your first DUI offense. The device works like a breathalyzer, and if you're over the limit, the car won't start. In addition, the maximum penalty for your first offense is $2,500.
The increase in responsibility is also visible at the wineries themselves. Lovingston Winery Owner Ed Puckett said, "We've seen a trend of more and more groups getting together and hiring a driver."
Having affordable transportation options also comes into play. Wine tours provide a safe way to get from winery to winery all while dodging the chance of a DUI charge.