VERNON, Conn. (WTNH) — Nip bottles are more than a littering problem on Vernon’s streets. Mayor Daniel Champagne said it’s also becoming a problem with cutting down on drinking and driving.
“It’s very dangerous because it puts all of us at risk,” he said. “Every single one of us should want to address this problem.”
The “Nip Responsibly” campaign is a joint effort between the Town of Vernon and the Connecticut Department of Transportation to stop drinking and driving, and littering.
“We’re seeing them random places along the interstate corridors, along the highways as well, so it’s just prevalent everywhere, and it’s a concern for everyone behind the wheel,” said Garrett Eucalitto, the commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Transportation.
More than 94 million nip bottles were sold in Connecticut in the last year, including 1.4 million in Vernon.
Local and state officials said the mini bottles are consumed while someone is driving, and then thrown out the window to hide drinking.
“It’s pretty scary to think that means someone was drinking and driving as well,” Eucalitto said. “Traditionally, 40% of Connecticut’s fatalities are tied to alcohol or drug impairment, so that’s one of the worst in the nation.”
A new law that went into effect last October adds a five-cent surcharge on nip sales, giving Vernon back thousands of dollars and allowing the town to partner with local non-profits for litter cleanup.
One of those is Opportunity Works, a team that goes out several times a week to clean up hundreds of nip bottles.
“If we don’t clean them up, they are going to end up in our storm drains, and end up in our rivers, and the Long Island Sound, so we need to stop it,” Champagne said.
Aside from a potential drunk driving arrest, the fine for littering in Connecticut is between $100 and $500.