Think Twice Before Drinking and Driving

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently released data showing that from 2001-2005, an average of 36 fatalities occurred per day on America’s roadways as a result of crashes involving an alcohol-impaired driver. It’s this kind of statistic that has spurred all 50 states and the District of Columbia to pass laws making it illegal to drive with a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher.

Although you may not be a fatality if you drive while under the influence, don’t think that means you’re home free. If you’re ticketed for a DUI, you’ll face a financial toll that you probably never considered. The following list is an example of some of the expenses you can expect:

  • Bail – It can cost anywhere from $250 to $2500 for a first time DUI offender to be released from jail after an arrest depending on the jurisdiction.
  • Towing – When you’re arrested, your car is automatically towed. The cost starts at $100. In Chicago, for example, the typical charge is $1,200 for the first 24 hours and $50 for each additional day of storage. If you can’t afford to get your car after 30 days, the city auctions it. Other cities are beginning to follow Chicago’s lead.
  • Insurance premiums – If you are convicted, your insurance rates will increase substantially for the next three to five years. This could mean anywhere from two to four times more than you are currently paying. You could even face losing coverage all together. In that case, you would be forced to find a company specializing in higher risks that will insure you, or see whether your state has an assigned-risk pool for insurance. Either way, you’ll pay considerably more for coverage.
  • Legal fees – Expect anywhere from $2,500 to $25,000 depending on how much time an attorney has to invest in your case to defend you. In addition to what you pay your lawyer, you may also find yourself paying for an investigator to examine the arrest scene, and expert witnesses who can testify about the inaccuracy of field sobriety tests.
  • Fines – The fines and court fees for breaking the law vary from state to state, However, you can expect to pay anywhere from $300 to $1200.
  • Alcohol Evaluation – This is required of anyone sentenced by the court for drunk driving. The cost for these evaluations starts at about $100 depending on the jurisdiction.

Treatment/Education Program – A conviction means you will be required to undergo treatment or education in order to get your driver’s license re-issued. The extent of these programs differs greatly, and the costs can range from $300 to $2000.

Candle Fires Present a Burning Problem

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) estimates that in 2005, the most recent year for which statistics are available, candles caused 15,600 home fires, accounting for 4 percent of all reported home fires that year. These fires resulted in an estimated 150 deaths, 1,270 injuries and direct property losses totaling $539 million.

Most common causes of candle fires:

-50 percent were caused when combustible material was placed too close to a lit candle.

-18 percent were caused when a lit candle was left unattended.

-12 percent were caused when someone fell asleep while a candle was still burning.

NFPA data shows that 38 percent of all reported candle fires started in the bedroom. However, the living room, family room, and den were most often the scene of deaths caused by candle-related fires.

Why is the number of candle-related fires so high? It has grown in direct proportion to the increase in candle usage in this country. The National Candle Association (NCA) estimates U.S. retail sales of candles at approximately $2 billion annually, excluding sales of candle accessories.

To help keep consumers safe while enjoying their candles, the NCA offers the following tips:

  • Keep a burning candle within sight. Extinguish all candles when leaving a room or before going to sleep.
  • Move burning candles away from furniture, drapes, bedding, carpets, books, paper, flammable decorations, etc.
  • Do not place lighted candles where they can be knocked over by children, pets or anyone else.
  • Trim candlewicks to ¼ inch each time before burning.
  • Use a candleholder that is heat resistant, sturdy and large enough to contain any drips or melted wax.
  • Place the candleholder on a stable, heat-resistant surface.
  • Keep the wax pool free of wick trimmings, matches and debris at all times.
  • Don’t burn a candle longer than the manufacturer recommends.
  • Keep burning candles away from drafts, vents, ceiling fans and air currents to prevent rapid, uneven burning, and avoid flame flare-ups.
  • Burn candles in a well-ventilated room.
  • Stop burning a candle when 2 inches of wax remains or ½ inch if in a container.
  • Never touch a burning candle or move a votive or container candle when the wax is liquid.
  • Never use a knife or sharp object to remove wax drippings from a glass holder because it might scratch, weaken, or cause the glass to break upon subsequent use.
  • Use a candlesnuffer to extinguish a candle so hot wax doesn’t splatter.
  • Never extinguish candles with water because it may cause the hot wax to splatter.
  • Use flashlights and other battery-powered lights during a power failure.
  • Make sure a candle is completely extinguished and the wick ember is no longer glowing before leaving the room.
  • Extinguish a candle if it smokes, flickers repeatedly, or the flame becomes too high.
  • Never use a candle as a night-light.