Every time they order a $15 martini, it costs you $2.05 or more

Drunk driving comes with a high cost. No one has to remind you of that fact if you or a loved one suffered injuries at the hands of an impaired driver. You have experienced the physical pain, emotional suffering and financial loss. You know what it is like to have someone else change your life forever.

You may not think another's excessive drinking affects you on a personal level, but "you are paying a price," says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC data shows that society pays $249 billion per year to cover the consequences of overconsumption.

As a taxpayer, you had better believe that the government passes a portion of the total bill onto you. The national average cost per person is $2.05 per drink. For those of you who live in Ohio, you pay closer to $2.10 every time an excessive drinker orders a beer, wine or other alcoholic beverage.

The Washington Post referred to the extra expenses as the "hidden costs" of drinking. When you look at the numbers, the cost feels a bit more apparent. What are some of those costs?

  • Productivity losses adding up to $82 billion: Whether you are an employer who has lost profits, an employee forced to pick up the slack or a spouse who handles more of the household duties, you feel the effects when impairment causes another person to be less productive or fail to show up at all.
  • Early mortality rates that result in $75 billion: Excessive drinking contributes to early mortality rates, whether due to health issues or accidents. There is a real cost, whether that involves funeral expenses or children left behind who need public assistance to replace funding a parent would have provided.
  • Health care expenses of $28 billion: As noted above, excessive drinking has health consequences. An alcoholic may need specialty care for treatment, hospitalization and medications. Knowing that alcoholism is a problem, designated groups spend significant money on research and prevention.
  • A criminal price tag of $25 billion: Dealing with alcohol-related crimes, including non-vehicular crimes such as assault, does not come cheap. Defendants can't always pay their own court costs. Putting criminals behind bars keeps them off the street, but jails need resources to train and employ staff, feed prisoners and maintain the premises.
  • Financial costs of $13 billion related to car accidents: Car accidents result in personal injuries and property damage. This includes damage to private and public property.
  • Miscellaneous costs of $28 billion: You cannot group all losses into a broad category but even the miscellaneous costs are significant. For example, excessive drinking can lead to fetal alcohol syndrome. Children who suffer from this condition often require special education and care.

If you or a loved one is a victim of a drunk driving accident, you do not have to rely on taxpayer money to help cover the personal and financial costs. You can seek compensation through a personal injury lawsuit. Although an insurance company may pay much of the actual monetary award, the lawsuit holds the driver accountable to you for his or her actions.

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