You Paid For It: Binge drinking in Wisconsin costs you thousands of dollars and could end up changing the state's lifestyle


You Paid For It: Binge drinking in Wisconsin costs you thousands of dollars and could end up changing the state's lifestyle

By Lindsey Morone, Shannon Sims. CREATED May 8, 2013 - UPDATED: May 8, 2013

MILWAUKEE - Even if you've never taken a sip of alcohol, you are still paying the price!

Southeast Wisconsin thrives on the brewing industry. But some argue that dependency is causing a costly drinking problem, close to 3 billion tax payer dollars a year. And the heavy price for binge drinking may end up costing you more than money. It could end up changing Wisconsin's lifestyle.

For women, binge drinking, is defined as four or more drinks. For men, it's defined as five or more. However, for Wisconsintes, that number climbs to nine, far above the national average. In fact, Wisconsin is ranked first in the state for binge drinking.

"It's just way, way, out of the norm and dangerous," says Maureen Busalacchi with Health First Wisconsin.

Health First Wisconsin released a 156 page report detailing just how much alcohol is costing you, the tax payer. The report looks at how binge drinking leads to lost productivity at work, premature death, costly health care, crashes, and an increased work load on the criminal justice system.

"It's not just crashes. But it's the sexual assaults. It's the bar fights and it's the domestic violence that goes on," explains Busalacchi.

Health First Wisconsin says it adds up to almost $3 billion in tax payer money. That's about $1,200 a person. The group compares alcohol to cigarettes. Cigarettes are taxed more than $2.50 because of the health care costs. If alcohol was taxed the same way, you'd be paying close to an extra $2 per drink, instead of three cents. Because of the report, the group is asking state lawmakers to increase the alcohol sales tax, also legalize sobriety check points, and limit the amount of liquor licenses in the state.

"I have a local bakery that sells beer. You know, really? We don't need alcohol at every event and in every place," exclaims Busalacchi.

John Dunham provides research to MillerCoors. He says if not handled correctly, Heath First Wisconsin's report could be disastrous for the Wisconsin economy.

"About 61 thousand people in Wisconsin, real people, with real jobs, depend on the production and sale of a malt beverage and malt beverage products," explains Dunham.

But some still argue we've officially been over served.

"We've hit the point where it is not helping us to have this much alcohol," says Busalacchi.

There still has not been too much action as far as trying to increase the alcohol sales tax. However, right now Senator Tim Carpenter is drafting a bill to legalize sobriety check points in Wisconsin.

If you agree or disagree with those check points, let him know.  Click here for his contact information.