Archive » March 6, 2008
TEAMING UP TO STOP DUIS
By India Allen, Staff Writer
CHP teams up with Vintners’ Association to stop DUIs
The California Highway Patrol is teaming up with the Vintner’s Association and local wineries to encourage designated drivers and crack down on drunk drivers.
The CHP, along with Assemblymember Pedro Nava, D-Santa Barbara, and other local representatives, announced the initiation of the CHP 2008 Designated Driver Program at Gainey Winery on Feb. 29.
“We want to remind visitors that wine tasting comes with a responsibility,” said CHP Capt. Jeff Sgobba.
The program, which received a $658,000 grant, is the first of its kind in the state. It collaborates with local vintners and wineries to educate drivers, conduct tour bus inspections, promote public safety and hold DUI checkpoints near and on local highways.
The program will also be working with local restaurants and hotels to encourage designated driving. It will be advertising public announcements and commercials on hotel televisions, in the attempt to warn tourists who visit the area for its wine tasting.
Bret Davenport, a local winery owner and representative for the county Vintners’ Association, assured that the association would do its utmost to make the program a success.
He said he hoped the program would help make designated driving more “robust” and encouraged designated driving.
“It’s cool to be a designated driver,” he said. “You’re not put aside to be the wimp of the crew.”
According to the CHP, drinking and driving has become a serious public safety problem throughout the state. There are more than 17,000 alcohol-related fatal accidents each year in the United States, and 41 percent of the fatalities are related to alcohol consumption. In 2007 the county saw over 600 DUI accidents, 14 of which were fatalities.
“This is a constant goal of the program, to reduce DUI collisions,” Sgobba said.
Nava made the CHP’s efforts personal and compared the program with his experience as a deputy district attorney.
“I prosecuted way too many DUI cases. The carnage I’ve seen is way too hard to bear,” he said.
This program will allow Santa Barbara County to remain a place where people come to enjoy,” he added.
The Vintners’ Association and many local wineries have already implemented their own designated driver programs, in which they offer free tastings and food to designated drivers.
“I think it’s a great idea,” said Dan Gainey, owner of Gainey Winery.
“Winery owners have no interest in serving (a) alcohol to minors and (b) to people who have had too much to drink.”
Gainey Winery donated 100 wine tasting certificates worth $10 each to Solvang’s First Bank, which sponsors the Vintners’ Association’s Safe Tasting Program, as well as its new Designated Driver Program.
“It’s my passion to protect the community,” said Assistant Vice President of Solvang First Bank Keri L. Canady.
The Santa Ynez Valley Visitors Association announced that it will also be supporting the program in whatever way it can.
The CHP’s announcement of its program comes six months after the Sheriff’s Department initiated its wine education course and its 2007-2008 ABC Decoy operation, which sends decoy minors to establishments that sell alcohol in attempts to purchase alcohol illegally.
To date, more than 10 establishments, including wineries, have been cited by the Sheriff’s department as part of its decoy operations.
Sgobba said that while the two programs are very different, the CHP has a very strong relationship with the Sheriff’s department and is open to working collaboratively.
“We’d love to do it and have done it before,” he said.
Third District Supervisor Brooks Firestone and 1st District Supervisor Salud Carbajal also were in attendance.
“We’ve made history in the last 20 years…,” Firestone said. “This allows us all to work in cooperation…Together we are going to make this an even more famous attraction for wine lovers around the world.”
Carbajal shared Firestone’s sentiment.
“It’s not because I’m smart, but I married a great gal who doesn’t drink, so I always have a designated driver,” he said. Sgobba said the information and educational pamphlets will be ready in a few weeks and that training will start soon, and urged that all business and wineries chip in and cooperate.
“We’re overwhelmed with the support and collaborative spirit we’ve encountered so far,” Sgobba said.
For more information about the CHP Designated Driver Program, visit www.chp.ca.gov/community/designate.html.