Americans have a love affair with alcohol. We associate it with nearly every major holiday and celebration; we drink it while watching sports; and social rituals surrounding drinking are almost too numerous to count.
For the most part, enjoyment of alcohol is just fine. Many of us can drink in moderation and make beer, wine and liquor part of an event rather than the event itself. But binge drinking is another story. It leads to all kinds of serious economic and non-economic consequences. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released a report showing that in 2006 alone, excessive drinking cost the U.S. $223.5 billion. That amounts to a median cost of $2.9 billion per state; a figure which was almost certainly higher here in California.
In order to tally the economic consequences of binge drinking, the CDC focused on things like lost productivity, health costs, property damage and criminal justice expenses. Why is this all relevant to a personal injury blog, you ask? That can be answered in three words: drunk driving accidents.
Drunk drivers are undoubtedly a significant portion of that $223.5 billion in annual costs. They damage vehicles, which drives up auto insurance rates. They cause injuries to themselves and others, which increases health insurance premiums and can also result in massive out-of-pocket medical costs.
Those charged with driving under the influence also put a huge financial strain on the legal system; especially those who rack up multiple DUI offenses.
But drunk drivers cause more than just economic damages. They kill and permanently disable innocent people. You can't quantify in dollars and cents the costs of shattered lives and broken families.
You can't put a price tag on the grief of losing a loved one. But you can nonetheless hold drunk drivers responsible for the consequences of their negligent and selfish actions. In addition to seeking criminal charges against drunk drivers, many victims and their families choose to pursue personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits.
Source: ModernHealthcare.com, “Annual cost of excessive drinking $223.5B, CDC says,” Steven Ross Johnson, Aug. 13, 2013