\r\nNew van service started by former cop\r\nBy Mike Salmon\r\nALEXANDRIA, VA- With years as a police officer under his belt, Adam Stampfel knows what getting a DWI can do to a person. Driving drunk and getting into a fatal accident is horrible for everyone involved, but even getting caught for having a taillight out or at a sobriety checkpoint can mean loss of license, loss of job, thousands of dollars in fines and insurance, and even spending a night in jail.\r\nBecause Stampfel has seen up close what a DWI can do, he started The Getaway Driver, a van service that specializes in being the designated driver for winery tours, brewery visits, and other safe outings so that family and friends can celebrate without worrying about drinking.\r\nLet\u2019s face it: The designated driver doesn\u2019t have as much fun as everyone else. \u201cWe\u2019ve all been that guy,\u201d Stampfel says. \u201cWhy not let me be that guy?\u201d\r\n\r\nStampfel got the idea for the van service last year, on a family trip across country when he was \u201cthat guy\u201d behind the wheel the whole time. His career in police work had run its course and it was time to try something else. \u201cIt\u2019s a long drive across South Dakota in the rain,\u201d he says. Gathering ideas from the family was \u201clike a brain storming session\u201d and The Getaway Driver was born. Soon after, he bought the van.\r\nIt\u2019s a tall van that can comfortably seat 15 people, so riders won\u2019t feel cramped on a bachelor or bachelorette party, winery tour, or bar crawl. And drinking is not required, so if your group simply wants to go to a museum, out to dinner, or to a site-seeing event, the van can accommodate all of those activities. That includes wedding parties and graduation night soirees too.\r\nBut the wineries are where it started and so far Stampfel is working with three in the Virginia countryside: Pearmund, Vint Hill, and Effingham, which are all related through shared management or ownership, but unique in their own right. Adam has learned their stories and narrates a tour as they travel to each.\r\n\u201cI give people a bit of background, not just a shuttle bus to the winery,\u201d he says. Vint Hill, for example, was a U.S. Army base from 1940 to 1980 because it could receive particular radio frequencies in that location, and Pearmund, near Broad Run, has the oldest Chardonnay vines in Virginia.\r\n\r\nWhen planning an outing, Adam works out the logistics and was meeting groups by the King Street Metro, but now meets them across the street by Joe Theismann\u2019s restaurant. (Metro\u2019s planned 15-week closure of all Alexandria stations has complicated many business owners\u2019 logistics.) Everyone gets a custom The Getaway Driver bag, with snacks, water, and company literature, and they get underway.\r\nOne popular route he\u2019s done a few times starts with a tour of the Lee-Fendall House on North Washington Street, then down the parkway to Mount Vernon for more George Washington facts, and then back to Port City Brewery on Wheeler Avenue.\r\nAnother time a corporate group at the Hotel Indigo was looking for a unique experience and The Getaway Driver delivered.\r\nFor a bachelorette party, they traveled to Vint Hill, and then to Old Bust Head Brewing Company near the winery. The chatter increased on the way home. \u201cThat was a good group for me,\u201d he says. \u201cIt got a little loud, but they had a good time and no one got sick.\u201d\r\n\r\nAnother time, someone did get sick, and Stampfel stocks paper towels for such emergencies. \u201cShe indulged a little too much,\u201d he says. \u201cI heard a noise, a noise I know too well,\u201d he says, referring to traveling with his young kids in the past. \u201cI charge a cleaning fee for something like that.\u201d\r\n\r\nWhy not call Uber or Lyft? With those services, prices vary depending on the time of travel, and it\u2019s not uncommon for those drivers to pick up other passenger(s) along the way. Plus, they often use economy cars that cannot carry more than a few people.\r\n\u201cI can carry more people and it will be a lot more comfortable,\u201d Stampfel says. \u201cI deliver a certain level of professionalism, making sure people get to these places safely and get home safely.\u201d Parking in Old Town can be a problem, and a big van makes it worse, but he\u2019s not shaken by that either. \u201cI\u2019m from New York City, I can parallel park anything,\u201d he says.\r\nThe Getaway Driver is still a learn-as-you-go enterprise, and Stampfel is trying out different ways to get his business known: social media, word of mouth, and print advertising, and he\u2019s taking marketing classes. The Getaway Driver\u2019s first summer is coming up, and warm weather occasions are flourishing.