VIPs Need A Chauffeur!

In Napa we like to treat all our guests as VIPs, but some deserve a little more careful handling and attention, namely another kind of VIP: Visually Intoxicated Persons.

Recently I went through a course for servers of alcohol which is designed to prepare for the required testing to get licensed. Walking into the class I was pretty certain it would certainly be two hours of information I already knew and can’t say that I saw a lot of potential value.

As you might be expecting me to say I did learn from the course and the instructor was surprisingly entertaining despite the fact that he had taught on the topic hundreds of times. He’s the one that got me thinking about our very special VIPs—Visually Intoxicated Persons. When you’re serving someone you can’t check their blood alcohol content (BAC), but you can do some basic assessments to see if the person is likely impaired and needs to take a break from drinking. Let’s face it when you’re out with a group of friends and everyone is drinking it’s easy to not notice when someone is starting to move over the line especially if they have a lower tolerance level than you do.

I have a close friend who only has one glass of wine when we’re out, so it would seem she would be a great one to go out with as she’d be the perfect driver after her friends had a few glasses; but in fact after one glass she’s as apparently impacted as we will be much further into the evening. I never let this ‘lightweight’ friend drive after even one glass of wine or beer.

Research shows that men account for 81% of the DUIs and in many of those situations they have loved ones in the car with them. Unfortunately it’s often assumed men can drive after high consumption, but everyone needs to be careful and consider the ranges of warning as to when you likely are driving impaired. People also some times judge the risk by what they’ve been drinking, “I’ve only had a few beers” is meaningless unless you consider the person’s gender, weight and time period over which the alcohol was consumed.

This Website is one of many which includes a chart for guidance on knowing how much on average can safely be consumed. The page also provides a link to each state’s DUI laws and a Blood Alcohol Calculator that allows you to enter your gender and weight to see approximately how your blood level is impacted by the number of drinks and time period you enter.

The statistics of what VIPs (Visually Intoxicated Persons) that can behind the wheel can inflict on our society are staggering. In 2013, 10,076 people were killed and approximately 290,000 were injured. (source

Why a blog about the impact of alcohol from a business that is larger based on the Napa Wine Industry? It’s something we take very seriously at Napa Valley Tours & Transportation and we’re approaching yet another holiday weekend as I write this which means an expected spike in people getting DUIs around the country. According to, “during Labor Day weekend in 2010, 147 people in the U.S. were killed as a result of drunk driving, which represented 36% of all highway fatalities during that period.” While that was a few years ago, the statistics I reviewed on other sites for various years were very similar.

To offer an alternative to drinking and driving this weekend NVTT is again offering “Community Cars” which is a service offered in Napa on major holidays. We utilize our app NVT OnDemand to give people an easy way to request a free ride out or home. Through the generosity of NVTT chauffeurs who volunteer their time, NVTT donated cars and scheduling and the members of the Napa Sunrise Rotary helping to spread the word; free transportation is accessible this Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights between 7-Midnight. This is part of an effort to keep VIPs off the streets.

Some key reminders to help you look out for VIPs around you, so you can step in when appropriate and make sure everyone has a safe ride home:

  • People can build up a tolerance that makes them seem to be fine and hard to recognize when they’ve had too much, so with heavier drinkers you really consider the rates of blood alcohol based on their approximate weight, number of drinks consumed (1 drink = 5 oz. wine, 12 oz. beer or 1 1/2 oz hard liquor). If you are drinking too much per hour you are at risk of becoming a VIP, regardless of what type of alcohol you consume.
  • Take time to eat and have snacks available to people you’re entertaining.
  • If you’re hosting a party have people turn in their keys as they arrive, it’s easier to keep someone’s keys then get them away later.
  • Offer alternatives to alcohol and encourage water consumption to help with hydration throughout the event. I go with the approach of drinking one 8 oz serving of water for every serving of alcohol.

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