The Stokes County Board of Commissioners has approved a new ordinance which would ban drinking alcoholic beverages while on the Dan River. The ordinance will go into effect on Aug. 1.
The move comes after the state legislature passed new legislation granting the county the right to enact such restrictions. The commissioners had asked for such legislation last year after holding a public hearing on the issue.
According to the ordinance, it will be unlawful to posses or consume any alcoholic beverage on the waters or within 50 feet of any navigable river in the county unless the consumption is at a venue licensed by the state.
The ordinance also provides exceptions for landowners, and their tenants or guests, to consume alcohol on properties they own that are adjacent to a river. The ordinance also does not apply to Belews Lake.
Commissioners said the new law was not intended to punish those who were responsible on the river.
“If someone is not misbehaving there is probably a high likelihood that they will not be not be checked,” said Commissioner Jimmy Walker. “But for those people who come to the river just to blow it out and by the time they are halfway down they don’t know where they are this will give law enforcement another tool to help keep the river safe and family friendly.”
“Those few who are irresponsible are ruining it for everyone else,” said Board Chair Leon Inman. “There comes a time where there has to be some regulation.”
He said the new regulation may help with litter but would not be a final solution.
“This will not totally clean up the Dan,” said Inman. “We all have to be more vigilant.”
Nicholas Elmes may be reached at 336-591-8191 or on Twitter @NicholasElmes.