Wineries and Drinking & Driving - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Ste. Genevieve & Perry County

Wineries and Drinking & Driving

Wineries and Drinking & Driving
By: CJ Cassidy

The wine industry continues to flourish across the heartland, and in Southeast Missouri, several new wineries have cropped up in just the past few years.

But is that increase in business also contributing to more people driving under the influence?

Police in Perry and Ste. Genevieve counties have definetely seen higher numbers of drinking and driving accidents and arrests over the last several years.

They don't blame local wineries, but now police hope they can work hand in hand with those wine makers to make sure you're safe when you're out on the road.

"Fall is the busiest time of the year, " Jennifer Johnson with the Crown Valley Winery says. It's one of several vineyards that dot the Southeast Missouri countryside.

The tourist attractions certainly boost the local economy, but over indulging on what the wineries offer can create problems on the roads.

"We've had several car wrecks on roads coming and going; not just customers but employees as well, and we have hilly country roads people from city aren't accustomed to driving on them," Johnson says.

"When you have several new alcohol establishments in the area you are going to have an increased number of people drinking and driving. There's a lot more people in the area from St. Louis, and other areas that weren't here before," Missouri Highway Patrol Trooper Michele Coon says.

As troopers step up their patrols to keep drunk drivers off the streets, some wine makers are also stepping up to the plate offering incentives to designated drivers.

"They can put on a sticker show they're the designated driver get a voucher for four soft drinks or water and a coupon to get ten percent off purchases," Johnson explains.

And if no one volunteers to stay sober, you could always rent a limo for the day, from Little Hills Express.

"If you get out to the wineries don't need to be driving we'll bring you into town book you into a bed and breakfast so you don't get in trouble," Jerry Miller with the Little Hills Express points out.

"If the winemakers can do their part to try and prevent people leaving establishment intoxicated we do our part we can maintain safer roads out here," Coon says.

Troopers with the Highway Patrol will conduct checkpoints in Ste. Genevieve and Perry counties sometime this month.

So, be warned, police will be on the lookout for people who have been drinking and get behind the wheel.

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