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Alisa’s Law: In My Daughter’s Honor
By Jan Withers | August 5, 2014| 7 Comments | Filed in: National President , Drunk Driving

I was taken by surprise when recently asked with respect if it would be okay to name a bill sponsored by Congresswoman Nita Lowey in my daughter's honor. They would call it "Alisa's Law." Tears filled my eyes as I consented.

Those of us whose loved ones have been killed know that feeling. It is deep gratitude, blended together with deep sadness, topped with a dollop of smiles. A primary feeling every parent whose child has died is the intense need to have them remembered. They are our life, our hearts, and our souls.

It has been a long and painful journey since Alisa died 22 years ago. It has been a heartwarming and uplifting journey as well. Working together with our MADD family and close community friends around the country over these years is truly what has inspired me and held me up. My intense desire to support others struggling with heartache resulting from drunk driving, plus my passionate determination to end this violent crime propels me forward.   

I fully intend to witness the complete end of drunk driving before I die. It will happen, thanks to DADSS, the advanced technology we will enjoy in the near future. In the meantime, I stand equally determined with my MADD family in pursuing efforts that research shows are most effective in reducing this carnage.

One primary method is to require alcohol ignition interlocks for ALL convicted drunk drivers. MADD is laser-beam-focused on working to get such laws passed in every state. Indeed, when we began our Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving® in 2006 there was only one state with such a law. Today, pending the signing of a bill in Delaware, 24 states will have such laws.

Why do we do this? Because the deaths resulting from drunk driving have been reduced significantly - up to 43% in Arizona and 42% in Oregon! Those are amazing results. Effective!

This life-saving legislation is supported by Congress, NHTSA, NTSB, highway safety organizations, and even portions of the alcohol industry. Even part of the current highway transportation law, MAP-21, offers incentive grants to states that require interlocks for all convicted offenders. Still, half of our states refrain from passing such laws. My state, Maryland, is one of those states.

Thankfully, New York Representative Nita Lowey, the ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee, introduced an interlock sanction bill. The bill would create a sanction and states which do not have an all offender interlock law would lose federal highway dollars. This is modeled after the national. 08 laws (which Ms. Lowey was a critical supporter) and the 21 minimum drinking age.

Sadly, it has been my experience over these past many years that federal sanctions are the only way some states will enact the most effective drunk driving legislation. Indeed, I remember very well our work urging states to ratify .08 BAC legal limit as the standard in every state. It was only after sanctions were imposed in the federal transportation law that remaining hold-out states lowered their legal limit to .08 BAC. Lowering the legal limit has saved thousands of lives since its inception. Today, it is again time for lawmakers in every state to do the right thing and enact the most effective measures in saving the most lives and preventing the most injuries from drunk driving.

I was so very touched when they asked me to name this law “Alisa's Law” because it occurred on her birthday! I am also moved because her dad, Joe, and I have taken her with us on this journey to affect change. Her closest friend once said that Alisa was so private and would no doubt be mortified that her picture was “everywhere” now. But I don’t think so. She was such a kind and compassionate person that I know this change would be as important to her as it is us.

As much as I am honored to have this legislation in Alisa’s name, I wish more than anything that there would have to be no Alisa’s Law, nor Leandra’s Law in New York, nor Emma’s Law in South Carolina, nor Melanie’s Law in Massachusetts – nor any law needed to stop this needless crime. I will do such a happy dance when we see the day that these laws are simply part of the history books. I know you will celebrate with me! 

Click here to email your lawmaker in support of Alisa’s Law.



Submitted by Jenny at 06:05 PM on September 30, 2014
WOW! What an honor! It's inspiring that your hard work all of these years is supported with legislation in Alisa's honor. Keep up the good work because it matters -- many people have no idea how blessed they are because their family tragedies have been prevented.
Submitted by Tom in Texas at 05:19 PM on August 18, 2014
Why doesn't MADD stand behind and support Texas Governor Rick Perry at this moment against those bogus indictments filed on him for doing his job enforcing the laws on that over intoxicated Texas official lady and her Dumbocratic associate's using this to stop his campaign on securing our borders and his beliefs for the Good of our Great State of Texas and the United States of America. the Good of our State
Submitted by Missy at 11:17 PM on August 10, 2014
God Bless you and your family. It touches home with us as well. And I pray that Alisa's Law will be passed in every state. My family and I have lost a loved one and are trying to get help...Justice for him. Because he was struck by a man on drugs and going at high speeds. Nothing was done to this man nor was the story put out there as it should've been. And we can not understand why something hasn't been done. Our Jason will be gone for two years August 14,2014. I pray my sister will continue and push to get this man behind bars or at least known for what he has done to our family! I have contacted so many reporters and pray every day that someone will hear our cry for justice. And bring some peace to our hearts. God Bless you And Your baby Alisa! Im so sorry for your loss.
Submitted by Bob at 05:27 PM on August 8, 2014
It frustrates me that so much attention is given to drunk drivers and texting, talking, gawking drivers wreck and get away with it. ALL wrecking drivers should be made to pay ALL costs to the victim and victim’s families.
Submitted by Dave at 11:22 AM on August 8, 2014
Stop and think before you drive off in your car. Are you impaired enough to not be able to drive safely? You'll know. Imagine someone you love in the 'death seat' beside you. Don't do something that will haunt you and ruin the rest of your life. Make a habit of thinking this way every time you start to drive.
Submitted by Marilyn at 10:28 AM on August 8, 2014
I am so impressed that you and others have been pushing this important issue for so long. I have been a contributing member to MADD for a long time, though I fortunately have never lost a family member to a drunk driver. But I HAVE had family members who have dealt with problems with alcohol, and I have ALWAYS told them, as well as law enforcement, car dealers, etc, that if we really want to avoid alcohol related car deaths, we need interlocks, not just for anyone who has been convicted of a DUI, but eventually for all vehicles all the time! I have emailed my lawmakers as you suggested. I am sorry for your loss but grateful for your advocacy on behalf of your daughter and so many others like her.
Submitted by Joan Davis- Seattle at 04:56 PM on August 7, 2014
How wonderful to see Alisa's fsce and know that she continues to make a difference in the world. God bless her, you and Joe. From your friend Joan

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