Published May 18, 2017
Volume 1, Number 5

Mothers Against Drunk Driving Works to Save Lives,

one Campaign at a Time

By Tina Hansen
Pulse Writer

The mission of many nonprofit organizations is to promote safety, but none has been more prominent in trying to save lives than Mothers Against Drunk Driving. MADD’s sole mission is to end drunk driving and support victims, and prevent underage drinking.

MADD has been championing the cause for almost four decades when it was founded in 1980 in California by Candace Lightner after her 13-year-old daughter, Cari, was killed by a drunk driver. What started out as a way for a grieving mother to honor her daughter and promote safety, has grown into an international movement that saves lives every day.

The local MADD office located in Dublin serves nine counties. They provide victim services, educational programs and hold community events. As a nonprofit organization that seeks to stop impaired driving, one of MADD’s primary efforts is to prevent underage drinking, as it has pushed for stricter laws nationwide.  Over the years MADD has succeeded in the passage of the national 21 minimum drinking age law in 1984 and the 1995 "zero tolerance" provision making it illegal for those under 21 to drive after consuming alcohol.

MADD works with schools and communities to promote events and platforms aimed at educating teenagers about the dangers of driving while impaired by both alcohol and drugs.

April was Alcohol Awareness Month and MADD worked with local schools and police departments to promote a poignant anti-DUI program called “Every 15 Minutes.”

The Pleasanton Unified School District and the Pleasanton Police Department presented the program at Amador Valley High School. The dramatic production, which simulates a car crash, is designed to teach students about the serious consequences of driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. A road closure in Pleasanton was part of the event as a way to highlight the effects of drunk driving.

MADD also worked with students at Dublin High School on a video for a new campaign called “No More Victims.”

“These amazing students have really taken on MADD’s mission by creating a PSA for our office, and they plan to create a documentary on the impact of those who are affected by a DUI. These students are truly amazing,” said Cara Houck, Program Specialist, Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

The events serve as a sobering reminder that drinking and driving have dire consequences for both the victims and those behind the wheel. In 2015, the most current year of statistics, Pleasanton had 33 people hurt or injured in a drunk driving collision, with 18 of those involving a driver under 35 years old and 178 people were arrested for DUIs in 2015.

In Alameda County, 810 people were killed or injured in drunk driving related collisions and 364 of those involved a driver under 35 years old.

Through its research, MADD reports there are an estimated 11 million underage drinkers in the U.S. and nearly a third of all drunk driving related deaths occur to people between 16 and 20. On average, two in three people will be involved in a drunk driving crash in their lifetime.

Alameda County is part of a pilot program that makes ignition interlock devices mandatory for all convicted drunk driving offenders, and effective January 1, 2019, ignition interlocks are required for all repeat offenders, and all first-time offenders are incentivized to use the device. Judges in counties outside the pilot program also have the discretion to order interlocks. As of August 2015, there were 18,775 interlocks installed in California.

According to MADD, first-time offenders are rarely first-time drunk drivers. They estimate that a first-time driver convicted of a DUI has driven drunk at least 80 times before being arrested.

It is no longer just driving drunk that is causing problems. MADD says there is an increase in drivers who are drunk and high on marijuana. However, there is currently no way for law enforcement to immediately prove a driver is high, when a breathalyzer is used it only detects the body’s alcohol level.

MADD, through partnerships with California Highway Patrol, is creating programs, community outreach, and education aimed at keeping convicted drunk drivers and drivers who are high, from driving under the influence. To do that they need to raise money through events. The next event hosted by MADD is their 8th Annual Walk Like MADD on October 1, 2017, at Lake Merced in San Francisco.

For more information on MADD and their upcoming event, visit www.walklikemadd.org, or www.madd.org.