MADD's Drunk Driving Proposals

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has proposed several strategies to reduce drunk driving deaths and injuries. 1

Target Higher Risk Drunk Drivers

MADD points out that higher risk drunk drivers (repeat offenders, drivers with very high blood alcohol concentrations -- especially .15 percent or above -- and those who drive with suspended licenses) cause a majority of alcohol-related traffic fatalities. For example, in a recent year, 58% of such fatalities involved drivers with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .15% or higher.

MADD promotes numerous practices to target higher risk drivers. These include jail or prison, fines, license suspension, vehicle impoundment, vehicle immobilization, ignition interlock devices to prevent drunk driving, financial restitution to victims, mandatory treatment for alcohol abuse, and attendance at victim impact panels.

Strengthen Legislation

MADD recommends more and stronger legislation, especially administrative license revocation (ALR) laws. Such laws require mandatory revocation of a driver's license if an alcohol test (typically a breathalyzer) is either refused or failed. Importantly, ALR laws make it possible to revoke a driver's license very quickly and get the dangerous driver off the road. Support Law Enforcement Law enforcement is pivotal in the fight against drunk driving. MADD is a strong supporter of sobriety checkpoints in the effort to apprehend drunk drivers and to serve as a deterrent to impaired driving.

Make the Criminal Justice System Accountable

For over 20 years, MADD has raised public consciousness about the unconscionable act of driving while drunk. However, too many judges still impose inadequate penalties for impaired driving. Therefore, the organization opposes plea-bargaining and supports intensive alcohol abuse treatment for higher risk drunk drivers. MADD is attempting to implement court-monitoring programs to bring about more effective sentencing.

MADD's concerns are echoed by a survey of 390 prosecutors from 35 states conducted by the Traffic Injury Research Institute. The top five problems faced by prosecutors included inadequate penalties for repeat offenders and alcohol test refusal. Although there are penalties for refusing to submit to a test, they are less severe than those for a drunk driving conviction. 2

Accept Responsibility

We need to accept responsibility for ending the death and injury caused by drunken driving, says Millie Webb, national president of MADD. For more on responsibility, visit Drunken Driving -- Predictable, But Inevitable?

References

  • 1. Webb, M.I. MADD: Strategies for Safer Streets. Washington Post (November 26, 2001.
  • 2. Associated Press. Report: Nation's Prosecutors Upset Over Flaws in DUI Laws (June 8, 2002).

Readings

  • A Plan to Prevent Drunk Driving, by Morris E. Chafitz (founding Director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism). Washington, DC: Health Education Foundation, 1983. Available for $5.95 by calling 202-338-3501 or writing to the Health Education Foundation, Suite 502, 2600 Virginia Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20037.

filed under: Drinking and Driving