Ignition Interlock Devices (IIDs) Promoted by MADD

Ignition interlock devices (IIDs) are alcohol breath testing devices that can be installed on vehicles. They require that someone (presumably the intended driver) blow into the breath tester and pass the breath test before the vehicle can be started.

Because breath testers lack high reliability and validity in measuring blood alcohol concentration (BAC), ignition interlock devices are very controversial.

A more serious problem is that the effectiveness of ignition interlock devices is highly questionable at best. For example, a study by the California department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) found that “second DUI offenders installing an IID had a 130% higher risk of a subsequent crash than suspended drivers.” It concluded that “the overall traffic safety effect of IIDs are mixed.”

However, a proposal in Congress would (1) discourage states from suspending the drivers licenses of repeat DUI/DWI offenders and (2) force states to require all repeat DUI/DWI offenders to install ignition interlock devices on their vehicles. If adopted, the federal mandate would generate an additional $300 million dollars in new sales each year for the manufacturers of ignition interlock systems.

Incredibly, Mothers Against drunk Driving (MADD) is pushing for shorter license suspensions for repeat offenders in order to promote the mandatory use of ignition interlock devices. As a member of MADD’s National Advisory Board explains, “due to increasing support among government agencies and activist organizations such as MADD, it appears that the federal requirement for one-year hard suspension for second offenders will be relaxed.”

Why would MADD push the questionable ignition interlock devices? Follow the money. The ignition interlock device industry has invested money in MADD for years. The president of MADD was the main speaker at the Ignition Interlock Symposium in 2004 and one of the nation’s largest manufacturers of the interlock devices has been a major financial supporter of MADD.

It appears that MADD’s push for mandatory ignition interlock systems may be motivated by financial self-interest rather than any interest in traffic safety. Ignition interlock devices might not be effective in reducing alcohol-related crashes, but their manufacturers have been very effective in increasing MADD’s investment holdings.

A Problem

MADDs original concern with preventing drunk driving has largely been replaced with an emphasis on raising ever-larger sums of money and building an ever-larger bureaucracy. Raising money has become an end in itself and the corporate headquarters of MADD insists that every penny raised by local chapters belong to the main office of the bureaucracy, instead of the chapter that raised it.

All items in some issues of Mothers Against Drunk Driving's MADD E-Newsletter are devoted entirely to MADD's primary mission of fund-raising. There are no pleas for sober driving, no calls for more sobriety checkpoints, no news reports, no petitions for legislation to reduce impaired driving and improve traffic safety ---- just fund raising appeals. Most issues of the MADD E-Newsletter usually have at least one or two items not devoted to soliciting money.

For MADD fundraising is paramount: and everything else is secondary.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving spends most of its time in "self-perpetuating fund-raising efforts."
- The American Institute of Philanthropy.

"MADD has become big bucks, and that's it." "It's a big corporation." - Sandy Kaufman, former MADD chapter President.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving is guilty of "dubious budget and fundraising tactics." (MADD deceptively lists fundraising mailings as educational activities rather than fundraising activities.)
- American Institute of Philanthropy.

"One of the worst performance records (on spending inordinately to raise money, then spending below-average amounts on their stated mission) goes to Mothers Against Drunk Driving."
- Daniel Puzzo describing MADD's low grade by the independent American Institute on Philanthropy.

The question of mandated ignition interlock devices needs to debated on its own merits, not on the financial self-serving interests of MADD.


  • Ignition interlock industry to enjoy $300 million from controversial amendment to highway bill, says American Beverage Licensees: MADD’s corporate sponsors include manufacturers of controversial DUI technology. PRNewswire, July 13, 2005; for other references see Mothers Against Drunk Driving: A Crash course in MADD (http://www.alcoholfacts.org/CrashCourseOnMADD.html#Note31a)

Filed Under: Drinking and Driving