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Santa Fe Liquor Store Closes: What Price Alcoholism?

People who were buying their alcohol at a liquor store located in Santa Fe will have to take their business elsewhere.  The serendipitously named House of Booze has been closed by order of the New Mexico Alcohol and Gaming Division. The owners have agreed to sell their liquor license, and the business already has closed down.

According to a story in the Santa Fe New Mexican, the House of Booze was the site of liquor sales to intoxicated individuals on at least two occasions in the last year. Liquor was sold to a minor just four months later.

A statement issued by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission pointed out that “serving and selling alcohol in New Mexico is a privilege, not a right.” He emphasized the agency’s intention to oversee that owners of establishments utilize responsible practices to ensure that the public remains safe.

The House of Booze has paid a $10,000 fine, and the property was sold on the steps of the courthouse in foreclosure proceedings.  But what about the costs incurred by people who buy alcohol when they should not be doing so?

A person who buys alcohol while he’s already intoxicated runs the risk of an arrest for driving under the influence. The costs for an attorney and legal fees can run upwards of $5,000—and as high as $25,000 if you can afford to pay for the services of a really good attorney who will be sure to get you off.  But that isn’t the only cost.

Someone who gets stopped for drinking and driving loses the use of his car, which is generally impounded and towed. The cost of that can run as high as $500.

Once you’ve got that on your record, your automobile insurance most definitely will increase. You can expect costs to triple—so if you’re paying $100 per month, just to use round figures, your yearly cost changes from $1,200 to $3,600, or even more.

If the court requires you to attend a drunken driving program, expect to shell out another $2,500. Once you’ve completed that, you will have to spend another $250 to get your license reinstated. If you’re required to install a car ignition interlock device, the fees include $200 to install and $80 per month to operate—estimating a total of $1,160.

What about the cost of employment? Some people who are arrested for driving under the influence run the risk of losing their job. It’s then difficult to find other employment with the stigma of arrest trailing them. How do you put a price on a lost job?

Without even factoring in the cost of your job, and allowing just $5,000 for a cheap lawyer, you’ve spent over $11,500. Those are the costs assuming there was no accident and nobody got hurt. When you begin to think that the House of Booze was caught selling alcohol inappropriately on three occasions, and you imagine all the times when such sales went undetected, it’s easy to see that the House of Booze owners got off easy. 

 Alcohol abuse in New Mexico costs its citizens over $2.5 billion, according to a state epidemiologists’ study. If you know someone who could benefit from treatment at a residential alcohol treatment center, it’s time to get them out from behind the wheel—and steer them in the right direction. 

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