MADD

Mothers Against Drunk Driving, or MADD, is a non-profit organization that seeks to stop drunk driving, support those affected by drunk driving, prevent underage drinking, and overall push for stricter alcohol policy. The Irving, Texas-based organization was founded in 1980 by Candice Lightner after her 13-year-old daughter was killed by a drunk driver, Clarence Busch, a 46-year-old cannery worker.

Aims

Generally MADD favours:

* Education, advocacy and victim assistance
* Strict policy in a variety of areas, including an illegal blood alcohol content of .08% or higher and using stronger sanctions for DUI offenders, including mandatory jail sentences, treatment for alcoholism and other alcohol abuse issues, ignition interlock devices, and license suspensions
* Helping victims of drunk driving
* Maintaining the legal drinking age at 21 years old
* Mandating alcohol breath testing ignition interlock devices for everyone convicted of driving while intoxicated

History

Candice Lightner was the organizer and founding president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). In 1980, Lightner's 11-year-old daughter, Cari, was killed by a drunken hit-and-run driver as she walked down a suburban street in California. The impact of the accident broke almost every bone in her body and fractured her skull, yet the driver left her dead body at the scene. "I promised myself on the day of Cari's death that I would fight to make this needless homicide count for something positive in the years ahead," Candy Lightner later wrote. A 1983 television movie about Lightner resulted in publicity for the group, which grew rapidly.

In the early 1980s, the group attracted the attention of the United States Congress. At a time when alcohol consumption laws (particularly the drinking age) varied greatly by state, New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg was a notable early supporter. Lautenberg did not like the fact that youth in New Jersey could easily travel into New York to purchase alcoholic beverages, thereby circumventing New Jersey's law restricting consumption to those 21-years-old and over. The group had its greatest success with the imposition of a 1984 federal law, the National Minimum Drinking Age Act, that introduced a federal penalty (a 5%-later raised to 10%-loss of federal highway dollars), for states that didn't raise to 21 the minimum legal age for the purchase and possession of alcohol. After the United States Supreme Court upheld the law in the 1987 case of South Dakota v. Dole, every state and the District of Columbia capitulated by 1988 (but not the territories of Puerto Rico and Guam).

In 1988, a drunk driver traveling the wrong way on Interstate 71 in Kentucky caused a head-on collision with a school bus. Twenty seven people died and dozens more were injured in the ensuing fire. The Carrollton bus disaster in 1988 equaled the another bus crash in Kentucky in 1958 as the deadliest bus crash in U.S. history. In the aftermath, several parents of the victims became actively involved in MADD, and one became its national president.

In 1990, MADD introduced its "20 by 2000" plan to reduce the proportion of traffic fatalities that are alcohol-related 20 percent by the year 2000. This goal was accomplished three years early, in 1997. That same year, MADD Canada was founded.

In 1994, the Chronicle of Philanthropy, an industry publication, released the results of the largest study of charitable and non-profit organization popularity and credibility conducted by Nye Lavalle & Associates. The study showed that MADD was ranked as the "most popular charity/non-profit in America of over 100 charities researched with 51% of Americans over the age of 12 choosing Love and Like A lot for MADD.

In 1991, MADD released its first "Rating the States" report, grading the states in their progress against drunk driving. "Rating the States" has been released four times since then.

In 1999, MADD's National Board of Directors unanimously voted to change the organization's mission statement to include the prevention of underage drinking.

In 2002, MADD announced an "Eight-Point Plan". This comprised:

1. Resuscitate the nation's efforts to prevent impaired driving.
2. Increase driving while intoxicated (DWI)/driving under the influence (DUI) enforcement, especially the use of frequent, highly publicized sobriety checkpoints.
3. Enact primary enforcement seat belt laws in all states.
4. Create tougher, more comprehensive sanctions geared toward higher-risk drivers.
5. Develop a dedicated National Traffic Safety Fund.
6. Reduce underage drinking.
7. Increase beer excise taxes to the same level as those for spirits.
8. Reinvigorate court monitoring programs.

In a November 2006 press release, MADD launched its Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving: this is a four-point plan to completely eliminate drunk driving in the United States using a combination of current technology (such as alcohol ignition interlock devices), new technology in smart cars, law enforcement, and grass roots activism.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving has been run by Chuck Hurley, it's CEO since 2005 who was nominated April 2009 by Barack Obama to run the NHTSA.

Funding

According to the Obama-Coburn Federal Funding Accountability Transparency Act of 2006, MADD received $9,593,455 in funds from the federal government between fiscal years 2001 and 2006, but received only $56,814 in fiscal year 2000.

Drunk driving laws

Since the group's inception, thousands of anti-drunk driving laws have been passed. MADD also helped popularize the use of designated drivers, although at first it opposed the practice because it might enable non-drivers to consume more.

More recently, MADD was heavily involved in lobbying to reduce the legal limit for blood alcohol from BAC .10 to BAC .08. In 2000, this standard was passed by Congress and by 2005, every state had an illegal .08 BAC limit. MADD Canada has called for a maximum legal BAC of .05. Although many MADD leaders have supported a lower limit, MADD U.S. has not yet officially called for a legal limit of .05.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) supports legislation setting the illegal blood alcohol content (BAC) limit for adult drivers who have been previously convicted of DUI/DWI at .05 per se. This lower BAC limit shall apply to these offenders for a period of five years from date of conviction and they shall be required to provide a breath test if requested by an officer following a legal traffic stop.

MADD has successfully advocated, and continues to advocate, for the enactment of laws for even more strict and severe punishment of offenders of laws against driving under the influence, as well as laws against drinking and driving.

Declines in drunk driving deaths

The death rate from alcohol-related traffic accidents has declined since the 1980s. According to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), alcohol related deaths per year have declined from 26,173 in 1982 to 16,885 in 2005. MADD has argued that the group's efforts have brought about this decrease, because it claims that alcohol-related fatalities declined more than did non-alcohol-related fatalities.

However, NHTSA's definition of "alcohol-related" deaths includes all deaths on U.S. highways involving any measurable amount of alcohol (i.e. >0.01% BAC) in any person involved, including pedestrians. In 2001, for example, the NHTSA's Fatality Analysis Reporting System estimated an annual total of 17,448 alcohol-related deaths. The NHTSA breakdown of this estimate is that 8,000 deaths involved only a single car and in most of those cases the only death was the drunk driver, 5,000 sober victims were killed by legally drunk drivers, and there were 2,500 to 3,500 crash deaths in which no driver was legally drunk but alcohol was detected. Furthermore, some of the sober victims undoubtedly included those willing passengers of the drunk drivers. It should also be noted that vehicle safety has been improved since the 1980s, and this has likely resulted in a decrease in all auto fatalities, including alcohol-related deaths. Also, public attitudes are more negative toward drunk driving than they were in the early 1980s. The data also uses raw numbers rather than per capita rates. That being said, however, the number of "alcohol-related" deaths have dropped more so than non-alcohol-related ones (which actually increased in the late 1980s), which shows that the decrease in the former largely drove the substantial decrease in the total fatalities since 1982. In 1999, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) evaluated the effectiveness of state .08% BAC laws in reducing the number and severity of crashes involving alcohol. It stated, "Overall, the evidence does not conclusively establish that .08% BAC laws, by themselves, result in reductions in the number and severity of alcohol-related crashes. There are, however, strong indications that .08% BAC laws in combination with other drunk driving laws (particularly license revocation laws), sustained public education and information efforts, and vigorous and consistent enforcement can save lives."

Minimum drinking age laws

MADD argues that, given that the brain does not stop developing until the early to mid-20s, alcohol consumption damages brain development. Being a major force for having raised the drinking age, MADD also cites NHTSA data that the 21 minimum drinking age law has saved 17,000 lives since 1988.

However, evidence of harm to brain development is based on studies of rats and severe alcohol abusers rather than social (moderate) drinking humans. The age in human years of the adolescent rats in many studies often corresponds to very early adolescence (10-13 years, as opposed to 18-20). Also, the NHTSA data is giving complete credit to the drinking age for lowering drunk driving accidents in young adults, and (as stated before) defines "alcohol related" as anytime a person involved in a crash had any measurable amount of alcohol, no matter how small. In contrast, most professionals agree that education about the dangers of drunk driving as well as greater penalties for driving drunk were the main factors in the drop in traffic deaths. Also, none of these studies have been confirmed by unbiased sources.

Victim impact panels

MADD promotes the use of victim impact panels (VIPs), in which judges require DWI offenders to hear victims or relatives of victims of drunk driving crashes relate their experiences. MADD received $3,749,000 in 2004 from VIPs; much of this income was voluntary donations by those attending as some states, such as California, do not allow a fee to be charged to offenders for non-legislative programs. Some states in the United States, such as Massachusetts, permit victims of all crimes, including drunk driving accidents, to give "victim impact statements" prior to sentencing so that judges and prosecutors can consider the impact on victims in deciding on an appropriate sentence to recommend or impose. The presentations are often emotional, detailed, and graphic, and focus on the tragic negative consequences of DWI and alcohol-related crashes. According to the John Howard Society, some studies have shown that permitting victims to make statements and to give testimony is psychologically beneficial to them and aids in their recovery and in their satisfaction with the criminal justice system. However, a New Mexico study suggested that the VIPs tended to be perceived as confrontational by multiple offenders. Such offenders then had a higher incidence of future offenses.

Operating hours and availability of alcohol

MADD has generally taken the position that a decrease in the availability of alcohol will lead to a decrease in consumption, and therefore a decrease in drunk driving.

MADD's mission

Some critics claim that MADD has shifted in emphasis from preventing DUI deaths and injuries to preventing underage alcohol use and that this is undermining the organization's original goal because MADD's leadership has stated that it's more important to stop drinking than it is to stop drunk driving fatalities. For example, the immediate past President of MADD, Glynn Byrch, wrote in a letter to the editor of the Washington Post:

Taking away a teenager's car keys and replacing them with a beer may prevent death and injury on the road but it sends a dangerous message to teenagers that it's okay to break the law.

In 2005, John McCardell, Jr. wrote in The New York Times that "the 21-year-old drinking age is bad social policy and terrible law" that has made the college drinking problem far worse.

Many who are otherwise sympathetic to MADD's cause feel the organization has gone too far. Balko argued in a December 2002 article that MADD's policies are becoming overbearing. "In fairness, MADD deserves credit for raising awareness of the dangers of driving while intoxicated. It was almost certainly MADD's dogged efforts to spark public debate that effected the drop in fatalities since 1980, when Candy Lightner founded the group after her daughter was killed by a drunk driver," Balko wrote. "But MADD is at heart a bureaucracy, a big one. It boasts an annual budget of $45 million, $12 million of which pays for salaries, pensions and benefits. Bureaucracies don't change easily, even when the problems they were created to address change."


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