In 2011, 226 child passengers (under age 15) were killed in drunk driving crashes—representing 20 percent of all child traffic fatalities. And of those, more than half (54 percent) were passengers in a vehicle with the drunk driver.
In recognition of Child Passenger Safety Week (September 15 – 21, 2013), MADD is urging lawmakers to enact legislation to protect our most vulnerable population: children.
MADD receives more than 17,000 phone calls every year related to child endangerment. No child should be in danger from drunk driving, especially by those entrusted to keep them safe. We believe that drunk driving is criminal and irresponsible, and driving drunk with a child in the vehicle is a form of child abuse. Every child deserves a non-drinking designated driver.
Today, 44 states and the District of Columbia have enacted child endangerment laws or statutes that allow for additional penalties for a drunk driving conviction with a child passenger in the vehicle, but these laws vary widely in severity and definition of a child passenger. Click here to see if your state has DUI Child Endangerment Laws.
Among state laws, MADD recognizes New York’s child endangerment law – Leandra’s Law – as the most comprehensive legislation in the nation to protect our children. The law makes driving drunk with a child passenger under the age of 16 a felony. Leandra's Law is named after 11-year-old Leandra Rosado, who was tragically killed when an SUV she was traveling in with seven other children crashed in New York City. The adult driver, who had a BAC of .132, was the mother of one of the other passengers.
States must act now to pass tougher laws and send a message that it is not ok to drive drunk, worse still with a child in the car. Please email your representatives letting them know that you want a stronger DUI child endangerment law in your state.
If someone you know is driving drunk with a child in the car, we have more information and strategies available for you here. We also encourage you to call our toll-free, 24-hour Help Line at 877-MADD-HELP.