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If Sonoma County is known for anything, it’s wine. Home to more than 425 wineries, Sonoma County is an amazing place to live – and to visit.

These wineries are an integral part of Sonoma County’s economy, responsible for more than 54,000 jobs and $1.2 billion in tourism dollars annually. Yet they also carry risk for area residents, with a relatively high number of driving under the influence (DUI) arrests and alcohol related accidents occurring around the region’s wineries.

As experienced drunk driving accident lawyers, we wanted to know more about the impact of wineries on DUIs in Sonoma County. We performed an analysis of 9,373 alcohol-related arrests between 2002 and March 2021, and generated a heatmap of DUI “hotspots” to get a better understanding of exactly where people tend to drive under the influence in Sonoma County and if these hotspots overlap with any specific wineries.. Read on to learn more about the relationship between wineries and DUIs.

Where DUI Arrests Happen Most Often in Sonoma County

In Sonoma County, wineries dot the landscape, with a heavy concentration of wineries in the valleys adjacent to the 101. It may not be surprising to learn that in the areas with the highest concentrations of wineries, DUI arrests tend to be higher as well.

Our Sonoma DUI heatmap illustrates this point. On the map, the areas in red represent locations with a higher number of DUI arrests. Orange and yellow areas show places with slightly lower DUI arrests, followed by blue and green. WIneries are represented by purple dots.

As you can see from the map, the regions of Sonoma County with a high number of wineries correspond to red and orange areas on the map – which is the equivalent of a high number of DUI arrests. For example, looking at the corridor between Healdsburg and Windsor, you’ll note a large number of purple dots (wineries) encircled by red and orange. 

This tells us that – compared to other places in Sonoma County – there are a high number of DUI arrests in this area. Arrest data shows that between 2002 and 2021, there were 1,936 DUI arrests in Windsor. While many of those arrests may be unrelated to people drinking at wineries, others are likely connected to locals and tourists alike having a few drinks at a winery and then getting behind the wheel.

Of course, drunk driving is not limited to people having too much to drink at a winery. Other “hot spots” on the map are located away from any wineries. There are a number of hot spots in Petaluma, Sonoma, and Santa Rosa that are not close to a winery. This tells us that driving under the influence can occur anywhere, as long as people choose to get behind the wheel after having too much to drink.

Is There a Link Between Wineries and DUI Arrests?

Examining our DUI heat map, it becomes clear that driving under the influence arrests seem to happen most often in more heavily populated areas. This makes sense on an intuitive level: if more people are living and driving in a particular area, there will likely be more DUI arrests. The data on DUI arrests in Sonoma County bears this out:

As a general rule, the more populated an area is, the higher the number of DUI arrests. 

Many of these “DUI hot spots” have a number of wineries. For example, there are seven wineries in Santa Rosa – the area of Sonoma County with the most DUI arrests. There are four wineries in Windsor – the city with the second highest number of DUI arrests in Sonoma County.

However, there doesn’t seem to be a direct correlation between the number of wineries and increased number of DUI arrests. Geyserville has eleven wineries, for example, and relatively few DUI arrests. Overall, Northern Sonoma County has a much higher concentration of wineries than other parts of the county – yet does not experience nearly as many  DUI arrests as the more populous central part of Sonoma County.

Ultimately, while the presence of wineries may lead to increased DUI arrests in and around Sonoma County, the bigger factor seems to be the number of people who live, work, and visit a particular region.

How We Can Help

Each year, far too many Californians are injured or even killed by drunk drivers. A fun afternoon doing a wine tasting can quickly turn into tragedy in Sonoma County when someone decides to drive after having too much to drink. If you have been hurt in a drunk driving accident, we are here for you.

At Kuvara Law Firm, we are dedicated to advocating for people who have been hurt in all types of accidents – including drunk driving crashes. With more than 40 years of experience, we have what it takes to help our clients get maximum compensation for their injuries. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation with a  San Rafael drunk driving accident attorney, call us at (415) 479-7070 or fill out our online contact form.

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