MADD Says No Favors for Texas DWI Cops

MADD about Texas DWI copsThere are many reasons to be proud of Texas and its continued fight against drunk drivers across the state. In the last year the state expanded ignition interlock device access to include all Texas DWI offenders, not just those with a high blood alcohol concentration (BAC) or with multiple offenses. That expansion allows a first-offense DWI offender the ability to legally drive their own vehicle as long as there is an interlock installed, in exchange for providing a BAC sample to the device.

Three Texas police officers were arrested for DWI in a span of fewer than four hours last week. Rodriguez faces a charge of drunken driving with a child under the age of 15 in the car. She remains in Texas county jail on an $8,000 bond for felony DUI. Thomaston was stopped by an officer after he allegedly began to drive erratically. Thomaston was found to have been drinking and booked on a drunk driving charge. He faces a misdemeanor DUI and remains in a Texas county jail on a $1,200 bond. Both have been placed on administrative leave pending a full internal and criminal investigation. The third law enforcement agent, a young deputy, Sabrina Moreno, was arrested for drunk driving, less than a mile away from the location where Thomaston was arrested.

In 2012, 782 cases of police officers arrested for DWI  in the U.S. were recorded through Google searches and alerts.

You don’t normally see a police officer arrested for drunk driving, but just because it doesn’t happen very often doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. MADD says Texas DWI cops show nobody is above the law.  Through the expansion of the ignition interlock laws last year, everyone will have access to the program. Sometimes cops make the wrong choice too, and that choice can lead to the same penalties everyone else faces.

Texas Underage DWI: MADD about Prom Season

Prom and Texas underage DWIProm season is here and soon graduation parties will be a cause for celebration, but sometimes at a high cost to teenage lives. Underage drinking is a problem that has serious consequences for the entire family, perhaps most especially for the adults.  A Texas underage DWI assigns responsibility for underage drinking not only to the teens who consume alcohol but also to adults who provide it to teens. As such, MADD is launching a Power of Parents campaign to bring parents and teens together to talk about the dangers of drunk driving.

MADD warns that even after a Texas underage DWI, when the teen or minor has their license reinstated, they may still have to drive under the watchful eye of the courts. In these cases, the court may order the minor to install an ignition interlock device on his or her car or on the car that the minor drives the most frequently. This will have to be done at the minor’s own expense. In many cases, that means the parent is financially responsible, and as the owners of a household vehicle, the parent will have to use the device as if they were convicted of a Texas underage DWI, too.

Ignition interlock devices can be installed in any vehicle, even if you haven’t been arrested or charged with drunk driving. Many parents install ignition interlock devices in their child’s vehicles to help guarantee sober driving and bring peace of mind. Teen alcohol use kills 4,700 people each year, according to MADD. An interlock device can help provide peace of mind by preventing your child from starting their vehicle after they have consumed alcohol.

Power of Parents is one of three programs in MADD’s underage drinking prevention initiative. They are designed to empower teens to take a stand and influence their peers against underage drinking or riding in a car with someone who has been drinking. Power of Parents utilizes environmental strategies to reshape community attitudes to discourage adults from providing alcohol to underage youth and encouraging support for efforts to enforce the minimum drinking age. Combined, the three programs work together for total community mobilization to prevent and reduce underage drinking.

We Know Ignition Interlock Devices Work, So What’s Next?

Ignition interlock devices save livesWe have known for decades that IIDs work to prevent subsequent DUIs. Now, we have research that says the devices have effectively reduced DUI fatalities by 7 percent. Considering 10,000 DUI fatalities occur each year, 7 percent is significant. That number doesn’t even account for the injuries that ignition interlock devices prevent, nor the cost of property damage.

All-offender ignition interlock device laws are the next step.

The majority of states have laws that require ignition interlock devices for any drunk driving offense. Others have the requirement for high blood alcohol concentration (BAC) first-offenses or second/subsequent offenses. Both MADD and NTSB recommend interlocks for all drunk drivers, and data supports the effectiveness of the devices. There’s really no reason to not have all-offender requirements. Also, in states where a person knows they could face an ignition interlock requirement, DUI rates are falling.

“The first step to address the number one killer on our roadways is to do what is proven to be effective – use interlocks for all DWI offenders… Technology is the game changer in reducing alcohol-related crashes on our nation’s roadways… Achieving zero alcohol-impaired driving-related deaths is possible only if society is willing to separate the impaired driver from the driving task.” said NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman (2012).

Enforcing current ignition interlock laws is another priority.

In many states, it seems that an ignition interlock requirement is translated into an optional piece of a DUI conviction. Common sense says that enforcing ignition interlock requirements is just as important as having the devices. While there is a cost to support interlock programs that can seem high, as well as the time and energy spent on supervising offenders, the result is seen through a lower financial, emotional and mental impact, overall. More drunk driving offenders are able to continue working and caring for their families and loved ones, maintaining independence and a sense of purpose in the meantime.

MADD Celebrates 30 Years of Designated Driver Success

MADD designated driver red ribbon Knowing your friend has your back is priceless, especially when you’ve been drinking. Designated drivers weren’t all that common back when cars first flourished on American roads, about the time that Prohibition ended. Motoring and drinking both saturated the country, eventually giving rise to two important developments: car breathalyzer (ignition interlock) technology and the non-profit organization Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

MADD is celebrating 30 years of dedication to eliminating drunk driving this year.

Encouraging designated drivers was just the beginning for MADD. Today, we all rely on the organization to compel states to increase penalties for drunk driving, including expanding ignition interlock access for all DUI offenders. There is a rating system used to point out where each state may need to beef up its laws, from DUI child endangerment to ignition interlock devices to sobriety checkpoints and beyond. For MADD’s efforts, our streets are safer and drunk driving is a well-known danger, one that we are reminded of, especially during this time of the year with the “tie one on” campaign for designated drivers.

When you “tie one on” this year, make sure its your red, designated driver ribbon from MADD.

That particular campaign is one that is visible across the country. Schools send home ribbons with children, encouraging them to involve their parents. Liquor stores or other places where alcohol is sold often have the red ribbons, too. You can even contact MADD directly for ribbons to distribute, spreading holiday cheer as you encourage designated drivers in your community.

MADD is known as one of the most successful organizations in the world when it comes to advocacy for change and a positive impact on safety. The community focus and effect on our laws is obvious, and we look forward to seeing even more drunk driving prevention efforts throughout the next 30 years.

Is Drunk Driving Child Abuse?

Drunk driving and child abuseDrunk driving doesn’t just affect a convicted DUI offender. There are victims in any vehicle accident where a person is found to be under the influence of alcohol. When that victim is a child, the whole situation takes on an even worse turn and DUI child endangerment charges can be added to the entire incident. So, when that adult is a parent, how fine is the line between child endangerment and child abuse?

There really isn’t much difference, especially according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).

For every drunk driving conviction, it is estimated that the offender has driven under the influence of alcohol around 80 times previously. In this scenario, it is likely that a child was present in the vehicle during many of those trips, and that child had no say in who was driving them around.  That’s why DUI child endangerment charges exist, and why a DUI suspect may not only have trouble in court or have an ignition interlock requirement in addition to standard DUI penalties, but also face some scrutiny from the state’s “child protective services” department.

A full investigation could be ordered by the court, not to press charges of child abuse, necessarily, but to see if there are any public resources the family needs in order to live a better lifestyle. Drinking and driving often indicates other problems, and the support that can be found through these investigations can help change lives for the better.

Drunk driving may not fall into a state’s definition of child abuse, but it is certainly child endangerment. As an adult, you are trusted to make the right choices when caring for a child, and it’s a “no brainer” to conclude that driving sober is the only way to go. A DUI affects everyone, including the child in your back seat. Make the right choice and keep children safe from the dangers of drinking and driving.

MADD turns 35!

MADD 35th AnniversaryA 35th birthday is a milestone for anyone, but, there is something special about celebrating the “birthday” of an organization that has helped change our lives for the better.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) was founded in 1980 with a mission, “to aid the victims of crimes performed by individuals driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, to aid the families of such victims and to increase public awareness of the problem of drinking and drugged driving.” Since then, the mission has evolved to include underage drinking prevention, as well.

In 35 years, MADD has accomplished the following:

  • Enacted a bill that gives states federal highway funds for anti-drunk driving efforts.
  • Established the legal drinking age at 21 years old.
  • Enacted the Omnibus Anti-Drug Abuse Act that extended crime victim compensation rights to drunk driving victims and more.
  • Helped pass the Transportation Employee Testing Safety Act.
  • Helped pass the “Zero Tolerance” federal policy for underage drinking.
  • Established the legal BAC limit at .08, saw all 50 states adopt the same limit.
  • Saved 300,000 lives through advocating for change in all of these areas, and many others.

MADD’s “Campaign to End Drunk Driving” continues to drive changes to laws across the country, including sobriety checkpoints and the mandatory use of ignition interlock devices for all drunk driving offenders. Today, 24 states have ignition interlock requirements for first-time offenders, and there is hope for the future of other states that are currently discussing changes in their laws, too. MADD’s influence in this aspect of drunk driving prevention is vital to keeping our streets safe from the dangers of drunk driving.

Within 35 years, MADD has established itself as an organization with the motivation to drive change in the U.S., and around the world. With the support of drunk driving prevention technology, like ignition interlock devices, and the education of our youth about the dangers of drinking and driving, there’s no doubt that the next 35 years of MADD’s  mission could be the best to come.

MADD and the Miami Dolphins

miami dolphins maddEvery now and then, MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) teams up with another organization in order to help end drunk driving. Since 1980, MADD has worked tirelessly to get the public to recognize the danger of getting behind the wheel drunk. The organization has become a safe haven for families experiencing the grief of a senseless loss and a constant advocate for change. Working to influence lawmakers at every level of government, MADD is a powerful group founded in volunteer action and community effort.

This foundation is the reason other organizations, like the Miami Dolphins, work with MADD. Recently, the Miami Dolphins offered discounted tickets for their games through MADD. This is one of many ways MADD raises funds necessary to do the costly work of making America a safer place for drivers and pedestrians alike. And, by offering some of their proceeds to community workhorses like MADD, the Miami Dolphins allow their popularity as a franchise to benefit more than football-lovers.

MADD Red Ribbon WeekThe NFL (National Football League) has been a sponsor of MADD and its important work since 2010. MADD and the NFL work hard to raise the percentages of non-drinking designated drivers at football games, where MADD volunteers set up booths that inform and support game-goers to make the wise choice to never drink and drive. MADD and the NFL also partner around alcohol-related programs for youth. About 4,700 teen deaths each year are the result of teen alcohol use. The partnership aims to prevent these needless deaths by encouraging teens to pledge never to drink alcohol before the age of 21 and never get in a car with someone who has been drinking.

As part of the NFL, the Miami Dolphins aim to support these and other MADD campaigns. Selling tickets through MADD is just one way the Miami Dolphins work to make their games a safe, positive environment. Their “Fans Don’t Let Fans Drive Drunk” program is another direct way they link up with MADD to keep the streets of Florida safer. After all, drunk driving is something worth getting MADD about.

Why is Florida MADD for Ignition Interlock Devices?

Every year, thousands of people are either injured or killed in car crashes in Florida and around the country.  Although drunk driving incidents have been cut in half since the founding of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) in 1980, the problem still affects more lives than necessary. In 2012, Florida saw drunk driving fatalities increase over the previous year, and in the last year, there have been more “wrong way” drunk driving incidents in the headlines than ever. Drunk driving accidents are not discriminating, they affect everyone; even in the sunny, vacation state of Florida.

In this video, a woman describes the unthinkable loss caused by a drunk driver, and how it inspired her to begin working with MADD in Florida to help keep the roads safe from the tragedy her family experienced.

MADD helps train law enforcement and community organizations, as well as initiating and supporting legislation that aims to reduce or prevent drunk driving. Most recently, those efforts in Florida have resulted in an ignition interlock requirement for first-time offenders with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .15 or higher at the time of their arrest. Ignition interlock devices are also required for repeat DUI offenders, or for first-time offenders who drive with a minor passenger in the car.

MADD promotes ignition interlock devices for drivers who have been caught driving while intoxicated. Studies show that when drunk driving offenders are required to use such devices, in addition to programs and classes to help address drinking problems, they are less likely to become repeat offenders. This makes ignition interlocks vital to MADD’s fight to end drunk driving in Florida, and across the U.S.

By mandating ignition interlock devices, Florida and other states can help reduce the number of deaths that occur as the result of someone getting driving under the influence of alcohol. Urging the use of ignition interlock devices after the first offense goes a long way toward ensuring one less drunk driver on our roads.

MADD Red Ribbon Week Fights Underage Drinking Oct 23-31

MADD Red Ribbon WeekIn 1980, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) was incorporated with a very specific purpose:

“To aid the victims of crimes performed by individuals driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, to aid the families of such victims and to increase public awareness of the problem of drinking and drugged driving.”

Since its beginning, MADD has saved more than 300,000 lives through promoting awareness, aiding victims of drunk driving accidents and by supporting vital ignition interlock legislation across the U.S.

Because of MADD’s dedication to ending underage drinking and drunk driving, you’ve probably noticed that more cars are wearing red ribbons of support for the organization. In October of each year, MADD runs a “Red Ribbon” campaign geared to educating teenagers and adults under the age of 21 about the dangers of underage drinking and driving. MADD’s Red Ribbon Week encourages students across the U.S. to take a pledge against underage drinking, as well as drinking and driving.

Not only can students and adults display their red ribbons of commitment against underage drinking, but, there are also contests and games for schools and community organizations that help increase awareness and understanding by all age groups.

With MADD’s Red Ribbon Week, the increase in awareness about underage drinking and drinking and driving helps recruit volunteers and shows legislators that the public supports stricter laws and policies concerning drunk drivers. Despite a “zero tolerance” policy across the U.S. regarding underage drinking and driving, teenage alcohol use kills 4,700 people each year. Through supporting MADD, Red Ribbon week and increasing the use of ignition interlock devices and other penalties for underage drinking, that number can be eliminated.

This year, support MADD’s Red Ribbon Week (October 23-31) and tie a red ribbon on your car to let your community know you stand against underage drinking. You could help save a life.


New Jersey Applauded for Ignition Interlock Law

ignition interlockIgnition interlock devices reduce the rate of repeat drunk driving by a reported 67%, removing the choice to drive drunk and keeping the roads safe. According to Atlantic Highlands Herald, New Jersey’s recent ignition interlock law that focuses on all convicted DUI offenders in the state has received praise from Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). This new law would require the installation of ignition interlock devices on the vehicles of any offenders, including first-time DUI offenders throughout the state. Once New Jersey signs this important legislation into law, the presence of ignition interlock devices on vehicles will assure the safety of the public. Read more here: MADD Applauds Ignition Interlocks Legislation for Drunk Drivers

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