By Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna

I recently read a great article by Fleet-Resilience on How a $20 Bar Tab Can Turn into a Million Dollars-Worth of Financial Stress. April is Stress and Alcohol Awareness Month so let’s take a look and pretend this is you out with some friends or alone.

Imagine you went to close out your bar tab before heading home on a Saturday night and the bartender said, “That’ll be $10,000.” You stare at the bartender, stunned. As he starts to correct his statement, you let out a sigh of relief, assured that there is no way that is your tab. The bartender continues: “I meant $1 million.”

Research shows that the initial cost of driving under the influence (DUI) can average $10,000 – and that is just within six months of the incident. That money may be spent on initial fees which include bail, car towing, DUI classes, court-imposed fines, attorney fees, ignition interlock devices and more. But the financial stress does not stop there.


When the fictitious bartender corrects himself to say $1 million, he is referring to the bigger picture. After receiving a DUI, depending on the state, annual auto insurance rates increase significantly. In some states, the average Good Driver insurance discount is $1,307. After receiving a DUI, the same driver might pay up to $4,001 more. That is an annual increase of $2,694, which would likely total tens of thousands of dollars over your lifetime.  And that is just the tip of the iceberg. Say you are planning to retire at age 50 or 60. Chances are you may likely lose your retirement or pension which will be thrown out the window

Knowing the financial burdens – in addition to the health, career, and safety risks – would you still drink and drive? Or would you remember how hard you have worked to earn your living and your rank? Plan for a safe ride home before you go out for the night—and stick to it.

Drink responsibly and keep what you have earned. Do not let a $20 tab turn into a $10,000 (or $1,000,000) budget-buster. Even driving minimally buzzed can increase your risk for a car accident by 46 percent. Know your limit before you get there, do not try to “keep up” with others and plan in advance for a safe ride home.  You have earned it, do not waste it.

April is both Alcohol Awareness Month and Stress Awareness Month. For more tips on responsible drinking and stress-free living here is the entire article from Fleet Resilience  If you think you may be struggling with alcohol, contact a licensed therapist/psychologist or Drug and Alcohol Program Advisor.