Walk Like MADD Tampa Friday Evening: 11 Years of the Good Fight

Tampa-walk-like-maddThe army that battles drunk driving has many outposts. One of the most stalwart of them is the Tampa, Florida branch of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). This Friday evening, 23 March, the office will hold the 11th annual Tampa Walk Like MADD, one of the oldest and longest-running MADD walking events in the nation.

The walk will take place on the main campus of the University of South Florida in Tampa. Participants are encouraged to obtain sponsorship from employers, friends, and family members to raise money for MADD’s activities. Companies can create teams, and other sponsors generously donate to the cause.

The funds go to further MADD’s goals:

  • Raise awareness of impaired driving and its costs to society
  • Promoting more effective anti-drunk driving legislation, including ignition interlock laws and high-visibility law enforcement
  • Helping victims cope with the effects of drunk driving crashes

This year’s event is presented by Burnetti PA, and the event’s honorary chairman is Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister.  Sheriff Chronister, who oversees one of the nation’s largest law enforcement agencies, is dedicated to eradicating impaired driving.

Larry-Morrell-walk-like-madd

Hillsborough Sheriff’s Deputy Larry Morrell

The 2018 Tampa Walk Like MADD is dedicated to Hillsborough Sheriff’s Deputy Larry Morrell, who died of cancer last summer. A MADD supporter and a larger-than-life character, Larry worked on the DUI enforcement unit, taking a unique approach to educating students about drinking, and also schooling bartenders and store clerks in not selling to underage and impaired patrons. MADD named him Florida Law Enforcement Officer of the Year in 2016.  The award is now called the “Deputy Larry Morrell Law Enforcement Officer of the Year”.

Law enforcement officers will be walking to show their support for MADD’s Campaign to End Drunk Driving. There will also be victims’ families and friends, and many well-wishers and those who simply see drunk driving as a serious problem that needs eradication.

“MADD is needed. MADD is necessary. MADD is relevant,” says Larry Coggins, Jr, Executive Director of the West Central Florida branch of MADD. “ MADD has singlehandedly changed the American culture to recognize that drunk driving is unacceptable, 100% preventable, and is a violent crime.”

Since its inception MADD has helped reduce drunk fatalities from 25,000 per year to just over 10,000, but Coggins sees the success as incomplete until that number is zero. That is the reason for the 11th Annual Tampa Walk Like MADD.  If you’re in or near Tampa and you think No More Victims is a goal worth pursuing, you know where to be this Friday evening.

Tampa Walk Like MADD
Where: University of South Florida
Registration: 5:00pm – 6:00pm
Walk: 6:30pm – 8pm

More information about the event can be found here.

MADD: Don’t Change West Virginia Administrative License Revocation Law

Administrative License Revocation lawHow swiftly do you need to punish a driver for making the decision to drive drunk? In some states punishment is swift and immediate. The driver will be arrested, taken to jail where he or she is processed, and will most likely receive an immediate driver’s license suspension. Some states also allow the offender the benefit of installing an ignition interlock device under the Administrative License Revocation Law.

But not all states penalize drunk drivers immediately via an Administrative License Revocation law or otherwise, and now West Virginia has decided they’d like to make changes to their own law with Senate Bill 212.

The bill would change the revocation law that was passed in 2008; a law that requires all drunk driving offenders who want to drive during their mandatory suspension to use an ignition interlock device. If Senate Bill 212 passes, it would do away with that mandatory suspension at the time of arrest.

That’s not good news for anti-drunk driving groups, especially Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). They’ve stood up in opposition of the bill to the House Judiciary Chairman and requested a public hearing because they feel that the bill will weaken the otherwise strong drunk driving laws in West Virginia.

West Virginia Administrative License Revocation law is MADD approved because it allows a first offender to immediately install an ignition interlock, and if they have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) between .08 and .14, they can keep driving as they normally would for their four month suspension period. If you have a BAC over .15, the offender would  have to use the interlock for nine months. These swift punishments give offenders the incentive to use the interlock to keep driving, and those interlocks will keep drunk drivers from re-offending.

There’s no information on whether or not MADD will get their hearing, but because their commitment to keep drunk drivers off the roads has always included ignition interlocks, this isn’t a bill they’ll stand for. Let’s hope West Virginia does the right thing and Bill 212 doesn’t pass to change the Administrative License Revocation Law.

MADD Report: 2.3 Million Drunk Drivers Stopped by Interlocks

Map of ignition interlock useJust one year ago Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) came out with an eye-opening report on ignition interlock use in the United States. At that time they released data that showed that ignition interlock use was responsible for stopping 1.77 million drunk drivers from starting their vehicles, and when you think of that in terms of preventing drunk driving crashes, those numbers are staggering.

Now, one year later, MADD has followed up that report with a new report on ignition interlock use, and this time the numbers of drunk drivers stopped are even higher.

The biggest takeaway from the report is the continuing concrete proof of the effectiveness of ignition interlocks. According to the state-by-state counts, ignition interlocks stopped 350,000 attempts to drive drunk since December of 2015. Adding it all up, MADD found that since 2006 ignition interlock use has stopped a whopping 2.3 million drunk driving attempts over all.

Other data from the report includes ignition interlock use on a state by state basis and an update on all offender ignition interlock laws.

Texas has effective ignition interlock use

According to the report, over 244,991 attempts to drink and drive were stopped by ignition interlocks in Texas, with 27,694 stopped over the last year. That number is followed by Wisconsin with 211,972 attempts and 37,229 attempts over the last year.

Twenty eight states now have all-offender laws

There was a lot of progress made in ignition interlock laws in 2016. Maryland, home of officer Noah Leotta, passed an all offender ignition interlock law along with Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington, D.C. Other states, including Pennsylvania, California, and Ohio, also passed varied ignition interlock laws.

Ignition interlock use is beginning to sweep the nation, and if MADD’s report is any indication, thousands of lives are being saved by the devices every day. Let’s hope that when MADD provides another update in one year, these numbers will look low in comparison.

Ignition Interlocks And Uber Top MADD’s List

ignition interlocks MADDMothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) is one organization that keeps up with changing technology. In order to educate the public on the dangers of drunk driving, they’ve been utilizing new technology like YouTube PSAs, ignition interlocks, and ride sharing to stop drunk drivers in their tracks.

MADD’s support of ignition interlocks came about when they launched their Campaign to End Drunk Driving back in 2006. Since that time they’ve attended congressional hearings to voice their support for all offender ignition interlock laws and created their own report showing in hard numbers just how effective an ignition interlock is.

MADD is also the organization that introduced the concept of designated drivers to the public, and now they’re standing up for ride sharing services like Uber. Since Uber started up in 2009 they’ve redefined the entire concept of what a designated driver is and can be for an impaired person needing a ride home.

Why is Uber so popular right now? One of the reasons could be is because it’s so easy to use. Instead of calling a taxi service you just pick up your phone and tap an app. You can set a schedule for a pickup long before you even need one, and in that way you can always plan your ride home before you’re too drunk to really make a sound decision.

MADD also utilizes social media to spread the word on drunk driving, and in order to reach teen drivers, they create YouTube videos they share across all platforms to connect with teen drivers and show their real world situations that could very easily happen to them.

Getting the message out about the dangers of drunk driving isn’t easy, but MADD’s using technology to carve a path straight to the finish line. Maybe one day soon, thanks to technologies like ignition interlocks and ride sharing, we’ll finally see the end of drunk driving.

Ignition interlocks Have Stopped 1.77 million Drunk Drivers In The USA

ignition-interlocks-stop-drunk-driversIgnition interlocks save lives, and now that Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has created the report “How Technology Has Stopped 1.77 Million Drunk Drivers,” we have a definitive number as to how many drunk drivers have been kept off the roads by the devices.

Compiled from data taken from 11 of the major ignition interlock providers, the report details how ignition interlocks have stopped 1.77 million attempts to drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over .08. Ignition interlocks are designed to stop any drive with a BAC of .25 or higher, so if you factor in that lower BAC, more than 12.72 million people have been stopped from driving while the device was installed.

When you see the cold, hard numbers, it’s hard to argue against the safety benefits offered by ignition interlocks, and MADD is using the report to push states without first offender ignition interlock laws to consider putting one in place. As of right now, there are 25 states that have a first offender ignition interlock laws on the books, and MADD would like to see each state have a first offender law that requires anyone who is arrested with a BAC over .08 to be required to use the devices instead of receiving a driver’s license suspension.

Why is MADD pushing so hard for ignition interlocks? There are quite a few reasons:

  • MADD believes that first time offenders are serious offenders. Research has indicated that people who drive drunk will drive drunk at least 80 times before they are stopped, so requiring a first offender to use an ignition interlock isn’t a severe punishment
  • Ignition interlocks stop a first offender from becoming a repeat offender. If they drink alcohol, the car won’t start
  • The offender won’t lose their driver’s license, so they can continue on with their lives rather than wait out a driver’s license suspension

Ignition interlocks are a big part of MADD’s continuing Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving, and if all states take MADD’s recommendation to enact an all-offender ignition interlock law, the roads in the USA will be safer for everyone.

 

 

MADD Wants You To Sign Up To Fight Affluenza

fight affluenza with maddThere are few driving under the influence (DUI) cases that have resulted in outrage like the affluenza case has. Ethan Couch will go down in infamy as the teen who killed 4 people and walked away with 10 years of probation, all because his lawyers say he grew up too rich to understand right or wrong.

That penalty would have been enough to cause outrage, but when he was caught drinking on camera and he skipped a meeting with his parole officer to head to Mexico with his mother, the public really wasn’t buying it. He was found a short time later and is waiting to be deported, and because his mother helped him hide, she’s now in jail.

According to lawyers who know the case, the most Couch will serve would be 120 days in prison because he was charged in a juvenile court and he won’t be moved into adult court. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) doesn’t think that’s a proper penalty for anyone involved in a drunk driving crash, and they began asking everyone to sign a petition to #FightAffluenza in preparation for a January 19th hearing.

Within 24 hours they had 30,000 signatures, and they’ve been pushing toward their next goal of 60,000 signatures. According to the petition page, MADD feels that Couch should be treated as an adult because he is an adult, and there should be no more excuses like the affluenza defense.

If Couch is not bumped up to adult court and properly penalized for killing four people while drunk driving, the outrage will continue. What’s worse though is what could happen if he continually uses the affluenza excuse for his actions. If he gets off easy again, he may decide to drink and drive, and if he does he could end up taking another life in the process.

Although the January 19th deadline has passed for 60,000 signatures, you can watch MADD’s progress on their #FightAffluenza page.

Ignition Interlock Devices Tops List For MADD’s 5-Star States

madds-5-star-statesEvery year Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) comes out with a report to the nation on how the states are faring in their fight against drunk driving. The report is based on a five-star system, with 1 star being the lowest rating and 5 stars being the highest, and not all stars are equal when it comes to breaking down the information. Because the organization has thrown its full support behind the use of ignition interlock devices and sobriety checkpoints, those stars are weighed more heavily when assessing the states on their participation in the fight against drunk driving.

Here’s a look at a few of MADD’s 5 star states

Arizona

According to MADD, Arizona has seen a 46% decrease in drunk driving deaths because they now require ignition interlocks for all offenders. The state also has a strong focus on sobriety checkpoints, and if you refuse a breathalyzer in the state, you’ll get an automatic one year drivers license suspension.

Kansas

The State of Kansas finally began to turn around their drunk driving problem when they required ignition interlock devices for all offenders in 2011. The state is also very focused on checkpoints, and a recent checkpoint in Kansas City netted 29 arrests.

Utah

Utah is one of MADD’s 5-star states that was praised for fighting against underage drinking. The only suggestion provided to the state in MADD’s report was to appoint a DUI-coordinator to keep pushing to eliminate drunk driving.

In addition to these states, Delaware and Mississippi also achieved a 5-star ranking this year thanks to passing new ignition interlock laws.

It’s no easy feat to obtain a 5-star rating on MADD’s annual report, and because all states take the report seriously, the release of the report gives people more reason than ever to hope that every road in the United States will be safer from drunk driving.

You Don’t Have To Be Driving To Get Hit By A Drunk Driver

pedestrians-hit-by-drunk-driverMost people think if they aren’t behind the wheel of a car, they’re in no danger of being involved in a crash of any kind. Especially when it comes to drunk driving, it’s the power and force of one vehicle crashing into another vehicle that can cause severe injury or death, right?

It’s true, the sheer force of two vehicles colliding when a driver isn’t paying attention to his or her speed can be catastrophic, but the impact of a drunk driver hitting a pedestrian is almost always fatal. The perfect example of that happened in Albuquerque, New Mexico recently when a man driving under the influence struck and killed a 65-year-old pedestrian. After falling asleep several times while driving down the road, he veered into a lane and hit the woman as she crossed the street. She died at the scene.

This isn’t the only case of a drunk driver hitting a pedestrian, and there have been several cases in just in the past few weeks where someone innocently walking down the street was hit and killed by a suspected drunk driver. From the elderly man who was killed when a drunk driver jumped the curb in Las Vegas to the Chicago drunk driver who drove off with the body of the person he killed on his rear window, drunk drivers hitting pedestrians is getting all too common.

If you can’t even walk down the road for fear of getting hit by a drunk driver, what’s it going to take to stop people who make the decision to get behind the wheel after drinking? It’s cases like these that are the reason behind why Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) continually advocates for ignition interlock devices for all offenders. With an ignition interlock, if someone decides to drive drunk, the car simply won’t start, and that can save lives both on and off the road.

Why Do People Drink And Drive?

why-do-people-drink-and-driveThere are ad campaigns, billboards, public service announcements in the form of videos, and checkpoints with locations published in local newspapers: with all of the information available on the dangers of drinking and driving, the very obvious counter-attacks designed to catch people who get behind the wheel after drinking, and the wide-spread publication of tragic alcohol-related crashes, why do people continue to drink and drive?

If you dig online through the commentary after the publication of yet another tragic crash you’ll see people giving reasons including ‘Because I can’ to ‘I can handle my alcohol better than the person who has caused this crash.’ One comment on Freakonomics.com summed up the question pretty neatly, ‘There is a sense of entitlement among people who perpetually drive over the limit. In their mind, they are fine. It isn’t until an accident occurs that there is an issue.’

Sometimes, even when a crash does occur, it doesn’t make a difference. There are multiple news posts every week detailing repeat offenders involved in crashes, and for some, it wasn’t their first crash. Take the case of a repeat offender in Dayton, Ohio who killed herself and two others in a recent drunk driving crash. She was driving on a suspended license due to multiple driving under the influence (DUI) charges.

Or, how about the man in Plymouth, Massachusetts who was drunk and texting when he smashed into a car? He had repeat offenses and was driving on a suspended license in a vehicle with no tags. These are just two of thousands of examples you can find of repeat offenders who continue to drive drunk despite the risks and penalties.

For a family member who’s lost a loved one in a drinking and driving crash, it’s a no brainer not to get behind the wheel after drinking. Drinking alcohol affects your vision, hand/eye coordination, and reflexes, and scientific research backs up the fact that you cannot safely operate a vehicle after drinking, yet people still make the choice to drink and drive. That’s why Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), law enforcement, and local governments have put their support into ignition interlock devices.

Once installed, ignition interlock devices will stop a drunk driver from starting their vehicle, period. Without an ignition interlock, the choice is left up to the offender, and more often than not, that offender will make the choice to drink and drive again.

If your state doesn’t require ignition interlock devices for all offenders, you may want to spend some time asking your local representative why. With people making the choice to drive drunk every day, it’s the best way to stop someone before they put their keys in the ignition.

Reminder: Report Drunk Drivers

report-drunk-driversSummer months are a favorite time of the year for a lot of people. What’s not to like when every day is warm, the sun is out, and there’s always a patio to sit on or a beach to spend time on? But just like bikinis and Bermuda shorts come out in the summer months, something else comes out too: drunk drivers.

Drunk drivers are on the roads with you, and sometimes you won’t even realize they are there until something looks a little out of the ordinary. Maybe they swerve slightly into your lane, or they slam on their brakes for no good reason in the middle of a busy highway. It doesn’t take long to get from the point where you realize something is off about the driver in front of you to the point where you feel the need to report the vehicle for suspicion of drunk driving.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has some steps you can follow if you suspect someone is a drunk driver.

  1. Stay away from the other vehicle. Don’t try to tail gate them or follow them.
  2. Do not try to pass the vehicle or try to get the driver to pull over. You could end up in a crash.
  3. Take the license plate, make, and model of the vehicle. If you have a passenger in your vehicle, ask them to gather the information for you so you can concentrate on driving.
  4. Pull over and contact 911. They will ask you for any and all information you had on the vehicle including where you’re located and where they were traveling.

Doing your part to stop drunk drivers by reporting them is the best way you can protect yourself and others while on the roads this summer. Even if you’re not 100% sure, if you suspect someone of drinking and driving, calling 911 is your best option.

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