The Risks of Renegade Wine Tours in the Okanagan

Rows of vines in Naramata.

(Dan Walton /

A designated driver, someone sober as a judge, can still operate outside the law if they offer wine tours in the Okanagan.

Many vacationers are turning to local Facebook pages to ask for wine tour recommendations. On some of these posts, Natasha Schroeter, a former Osoyoos winery driver, noticed regular Joes and Janes offering to be their guide.

Schroeter warns these drivers that they are probably not covered by insurance in the event of an accident.

“When I saw people offering to drive visitors in their van or car, it alarmed me,” she said in an online exchange. “The driver puts a lot more into play than his time. And the people who outsource these occasional services don’t know what they’re getting into.

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But many people accept gas money to drive friends or family to a few vineyards – so where is the line between helping out and being a tour operator?

Lindsay Wilkins, media relations adviser for ICBC, says any driver who charges a fee will need some form of commercial insurance coverage.

For drivers who accept cash for wine tours, Wilkins points out how supplementary care insurance perhaps.

“As part of enhanced care, passengers in British Columbia are entitled to full coverage in the event of injury or death, regardless of the vehicle insurance the owner has,” she said in a statement. e-mail.

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Max Gordon, public affairs officer at the Ministry of Transport, also suggested improved care to protect passengers in British Columbia

But that’s just to make sure passengers are covered by insurance. He pointed out that even sedans can be considered passenger vehicles and if the driver uses it for commercial passenger transport, he would need a Class 4 and passenger transport license. These drivers must also undergo a driving record check and a criminal record check with a vulnerable sector check.

“VTC drivers must also ensure that their the vehicle meets all requirements“Gordon said in an email.

He added that the ministry monitors renegade wine tours through routine monitoring and responding to complaints.

Anyone caught arranging unauthorized wine tours may find themselves in violation of the British Columbia Passenger Transportation Act and motor vehicle lawsaid Gordon.

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