June 18, 2002
MADD Unveils 8-Point Plan to
Jumpstart Stalled War on Drunk Driving
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) today unveiled a new eight-point action
plan to jumpstart the war against the most frequently committed violent
crime in the nation -- drunk driving -- which has stalled in recent years as
alcohol-related traffic deaths have stagnated between approximately 16,000
and 17,000 annually since 1994.
The release of the "Getting MADD All Over Again" report recommendations
coincided with the announcement of new federal legislation to combat higher-
risk drivers and the start of a series of congressional hearings to
reauthorize the next six-year highway transportation funding bill.
Between 1980 -- the year MADD was founded -- and 1994, alcohol-related
traffic deaths dropped by a dramatic 43 percent. Since then, the annual
drunk driving death toll has stalled at approximately 16,000 to 17,000. In
2000, alcohol-related traffic deaths jumped by the largest percentage on
record, and 2001 preliminary reports show virtually no change as crashes
involving alcohol now represent 40 percent of total highway fatalities.
"The good news is that since 1980, an estimated 200,000 alcohol-related
traffic deaths have been prevented," said MADD National President Millie I.
Webb. "But, the bad news is that since 1994 the war on drunk driving has
flatlined. We are losing ground and losing lives. But this war is not MADD's
war; it's the nation's war. It is time to join together to jumpstart the
stalled war on drunk driving and get moving in the right direction again.
The light that we thought we saw at the end of the tunnel appears to be the
headlights of an oncoming crash caused by public and political complacency,"
added Webb. "The complacent plateau our nation has been riding since 1994 is
In response to this "complacent plateau," MADD convened a National Impaired
Driving Summit in January to bring together leading experts to identify the
most effective countermeasures to significantly cut alcohol- related traffic
deaths and injuries. Based on those discussions, MADD today urged the nation
to embrace the following top eight actions to sharply reduce
1. Resuscitate the nation's efforts to prevent impaired driving by
re-igniting public passion and calling on the citizens and the nation's
leaders to "Get MADD All Over Again."
2. Increase DWI/DUI enforcement, especially the use of frequent, highly
publicized sobriety checkpoints, which have been proven one of the most
effective weapons in the war on drunk driving.
3. Enact primary enforcement seat belt laws in all states because seat belts
are the best defense against impaired drivers. MADD recommends the federal
government give states a brief incentive period, followed by withholding
federal highway funds from states that do not enact primary belt laws.
4. Enact tougher, more comprehensive sanctions geared toward higher-risk
drivers -- repeat offenders, drivers with high blood-alcohol levels, and DWI
offenders driving with suspended licenses.
5. Develop a dedicated National Traffic Safety Fund to support ongoing and
new priority traffic safety programs.
6. Reduce underage drinking -- the No. 1 youth drug problem -- through
improving minimum drinking age laws, adopting tougher alcohol advertising
standards and increasing enforcement and awareness of laws such as "zero
tolerance drinking-driving" and sales to minors.
7. Increase beer excise taxes to equal the current excise tax on distilled
spirits. Higher beer taxes are associated with lower rates of traffic
fatalities and youth alcohol consumption.
8. Reinvigorate court-monitoring programs to identify shortcomings in the
judicial system and produce higher conviction rates and stiffer sentences
"In this new era of homeland security, we cannot forgo the domestic fight
against drunk driving. If the estimated 300 Americans who died last week and
the 300 that will likely die this week in alcohol-related crashes suddenly
and violently perished all at once, the national crisis that threatens us
every day would be clear," said MADD President Webb. "One by one Americans
are needlessly falling through dangerous gaps in the drunk driver control
system in nearly every state and community. This tragic problem is 100
U.S. Senators Byron Dorgan (N.D.), Michael DeWine (Ohio) and Patty Murray
(Wash.), Congresswomen Nita Lowey (N.Y.) and Lucille Roybal-Allard (Calif.),
National Transportation Safety Board Vice-Chairman Carol Carmody, and New
York State Police Superintendent James W. McMahon joined MADD at today's
Capitol Hill news conference.
"We made a great step in the right direction in 2000 when the Senate passed
legislation that encouraged states to lower the legal blood alcohol content
to .08," Senator DeWine said, "however, we must continue to educate the
public on the strict laws that are now on the books and the dangers
associated with drunk driving. We must not become complacent in the battle
to drive down the number of drunk driving incidents."
The MADD Impaired Driving Summit found that a major focus of a renewed
battle against drunk driving should be the "higher-risk driver" who is
defined as someone convicted of a repeat offense for driving while
intoxicated (DWI) or driving under the influence (DUI); convicted of DWI/DUI
with a blood- alcohol concentration of .15 percent or higher; or convicted
of a driving- while-suspended offense (DWS), where the suspension was the
result of a conviction for driving under the influence.
"Impaired drivers do not recognize state boundaries, and neither should our
drunk driving laws," said Congresswoman Lowey, who announced that she is
introducing the Burton-Greene Higher-Risk Driver Act. "The lack of a
national minimum standard for punishing repeat offenders and high risk
drivers has created an easily exploitable, crazy patchwork of laws," Lowey
said. "With the number of alcohol-related traffic deaths on the rise,
Congress must pass my bill to establish a seamless approach to punishing
The Burton-Greene Higher-Risk Impaired Driver Act creates increased
penalties for higher-risk drivers:
* Driver's license suspension for not less than one year, including a
complete ban on driving for not less than 90 days; and for the remainder of
the license suspension period and prior to the issuance of a probational
hardship or work permit license the offender must install a certified
alcohol ignition interlock device on his/her vehicle
* Impoundment or immobilization of the motor vehicle for not less than 90
days; and for the remainder of the license suspension period the offender
must install a certified alcohol ignition interlock device on his/her
* Alcohol assessment and appropriate treatment; if diagnosed with a
substance abuse problem
* Imprisonment for not less than 10 days, an electronic monitoring device
for not less than 100 days, or be assigned to a DWI/DUI special facility for
* Fined a minimum of $1000, with the proceeds to be used for state or local
jurisdiction for impaired driving prevention and/or enforcement
* If the arrest resulted from a crash, requires restitution to victims of
* Requirement to attend a victim impact panel if panel is available in the
"The Safety Board supports MADD's call to target higher-risk drivers, pass
primary enforcement seat belt laws, and increase dedicated transportation
funds to save lives and prevent injuries on our highways," said NTSB Vice
New York State Police Superintendent McMahon agreed that primary seat belt
laws and stepped up enforcement are key to curbing alcohol-related traffic
deaths. "The most effective way to discourage people from drinking and
driving and encourage them to buckle up is through highly visible and
proactive law enforcement," Superintendent McMahon said. "Sobriety
checkpoints have proven to be one of our most effective tools for deterring
and apprehending drunk drivers, and more frequent checkpoints on a national
basis will help prevent many needless tragedies." McMahon pointed out that
New York State was the first state in the nation to pass a primary seat belt
law in 1984. "As a result, we have witnessed our compliance rate increase
significantly, saving countless lives and heartache over the past 18 years."
MADD is sending copies of its "Getting MADD All Over Again" recommendations
report to President Bush and every Member of Congress and Governor in the
nation. The report is also posted on the MADD Web site: http://www.madd.org/
With approximately 600 chapters nationwide, MADD's mission is to stop drunk
driving, support the victims of this violent crime and prevent underage