Answering Our Critics

Last week I was interviewed on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal and there were many callers – many of whom were critical of my work through MADD.  One guy said he hoped I slept at night and another said George Washington would be disgusted as I was ruining people’s lives who were convicted of driving drunk.  The accusations were extreme – the convicted people lives were ruined because their arrests cost them so much financially and then they could never get jobs again, just for having a couple of drinks, having a little fun and making an innocent mistake.  Never mind that drinking to a .08 BAC level is not just a couple of drinks.  Never mind that Americans are very aware of the destruction drunk driving can cause.  Never mind that they are breaking the law by driving after drinking excessively.  Never mind that it isn’t innocent and it's not a mistake – it is a criminal act.  Never mind that they are responsible for their own consequences by committing this crime.  And, never mind that more often it devastates the lives of people they victimize.  That is why it is illegal.  That is why it is not just a mistake.

But you know, I believe George Washington would be proud of us at MADD.  He was all about the protection of our rights as citizens.  I believe we have the right to be safe from threat of violent outcomes that impaired driving causes.  I do sleep at night because of our hard work to save lives.  I will continue to be vocal, I will continue to lobby for effective countermeasures against drunk driving, and I will forever work to save lives and prevent injuries caused by impaired driving. 

Jan Withers, MADD National President

A Moment to Reflect on Thankfulness

The first few years after Alisa was killed I thought I would never feel thanks again.   I was wrong – thankfully.   This past week MADD celebrated the fifth anniversary of our Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving.   I remember 5 years ago when it was launched – realizing that by applying research-proven countermeasures against drunk driving we will see the end of it in our lifetimes.   That was exciting.

As we look at our progress this year we have made so much progress.  We began with only one state requiring ignition interlocks for all convicted drunk drivers.  Today we have 16.    Thirty-two states require interlocks for first time offenders and eight for repeat offenders.   Those are just numbers, but those numbers have saved lives of real people.  They may have saved the most important person in your life.  They may have saved your life.  They may have saved someone in our families.   For that I am thankful.   

I am also thankful for the progress on the advanced technology, the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety, that will someday soon seamlessly detect whether the person behind the wheel is at or above the illegal limit of .08 BAC and prevent the car from starting.  It will never interfere with the sober driver.   The progress on this research has advanced more quickly than imagined when the project began.  It will be in a test vehicle in a mere two years.   This will make drunk driving a footnote in the history books.  For this I am not only thankful, I am excited. 

In my reflective moments, I am still most thankful for the wonderful support MADD provides for the thousands of individuals just like me who have been injured or had a loved one killed by a drunk driver.  MADD is there for us every step of the way.  For that, I am eternally grateful.

Report to the Nation

In November 2006, MADD launched its Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving®.  Today, on the fifth anniversary, we’re releasing a Report to the Nation, which rates each state on its progress toward eliminating drunk driving.

Since the launch in 2006, substantial progress has been made, but there is still much work to be done. The Report rates the nation three-stars on a five-star scale (based on the average of the state ratings).  In addition, updated figures show that drunk driving costs the United States more than $132 billion annually.

View the full Report to the Nation to learn more, or see where your state ranks on our interactive map.

During this time of year, when drunk driving crashes are most prevalent, we are reminded that the goal of the Campaign is to have no more drunk driving victims. MADD calls on the nation to rededicate itself to saving lives, preventing injuries and eliminating this primary threat on our nation’s roadways.

MADD’s Report to the Nation is sponsored by Nationwide Insurance and State Farm Insurance. For more information about the Report, you can view the press release.  For more information about MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving, visit

5th anniversary of the Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving®

On Wednesday, November 16th, MADD will mark the fifth anniversary of its Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving® by issuing a drunk driving progress report.  Our Report to the Nation is based on a five-star scale, and rates the nation as a whole, along with each state, on their progress towards eliminating drunk driving through objective, proven countermeasures.

The Campaign was launched to bring about a quicker end to the leading cause of highway deaths.  After just five years:

  • 15 states have mandatory all-offender ignition interlock laws, up from only one state.
  • All 50 states now have some form of ignition interlock law, up from 45.
  • Advanced in-vehicle alcohol detection technology is no longer just a concept, now in its second phase of development.

Make sure to check back on Wednesday, November 16th to download your free copy of MADD’s Report to the Nation.

MADD Props

Did you know that teen alcohol use kills about 6,000 people each year,
more than all illegal drugs combined? 

helmet.jpgThat’s why MADD and the NFL have partnered for football season to encourage teens to not drink before age 21 and to never ride in a car with someone who’s been drinking. Teens can take a stand by signing pledges through the MADD’s Power of You(th) Facebook page where they can also enter to win NFL prizes by swag.jpgdrafting friends to do the same. 

Help us spread the word about MADD Props to all the teens you want to keep safe from underage drinking and drunk driving.  Have them visit to take the pledge and enter to win cool NFL gear (must between the ages of 13 and 20 to win prizes).

If you have a Facebook account, you can also visit and click the “share” link on the bottom left to share the page on your wall, or take the pledge yourself and get the MADD Props badge on your wall.

Teens:  when you choose to steer clear of drinking and getting into a car with a drunk driver, MADD and the NFL want to give you MADD Props. Take the pledge now!