MADD President pushes for all-offender ignition interlock laws

Ignition Interlock Devices WORK.

This technology is the SINGLE MOST EFFECTIVE WAY to keep alcohol-impaired people from turning the key and wreaking havoc on our roadways. That’s the simple truth coming out of the state-by-state numbers released by MADD recently at the Maryland State Capitol. Those devices stopped 1.77 million drunk drivers around the country from starting their cars. The number of people stopped from drinking and driving by IID’s is just as staggering… 12.7 million. 


Great work by MADD’s Government Affairs Team in compiling the information has provided a solid reference document as we move forward in our quest to have all 50 states and the District of Columbia require Ignition Interlock Devices for all drunk driving offenders. 

Maryland is one of the 25 states we’re hoping will pass an all offender laws this year. Half of the country is now on board.  The device is a proven success. So, if you’re in one of the states that doesn’t have an all offender law, the question I’d like you to ask your legislators is, “Why aren’t you protecting us the way the other 25 states are?”

In Maryland, Noah’s Law may be the legislation that creates the 26th all offender state.  Noah Leotta was a Montgomery County Police Officer who was killed by a suspected drunk driver while conducting a holiday DUI stop. Noah’s father spoke to the media and others at the news conference about the loss of his son and his hope that this law will make sure no other family has to suffer as his has. Right here in Maryland, Ignition Interlocks have stopped 18,491 people with a .08 BAC from driving.

Please join us in the work to have every drunk driver be required to use an Ignition Interlock Device.  Our nation deserves better…..residents and visitors of our states deserve better…It’s another step toward the ultimate goal of NO MORE VICTIMS. 

Count on a DD, not luck, for St. Patrick's Day

St. Patrick’s Day celebrations often include various shades of green, shamrocks, and light-hearted festivities. However, St. Patrick’s Day is one of the deadliest days for drunk driving. 

Don’t let tragedy overshadow the celebration. Arrange for a designated driver if your celebration will include alcohol. It’s a simple step that can save lives. Remember, once you start drinking, you can’t accurately judge your impairment. 

If you host a party, you can be held liable and prosecuted if someone you serve ends up in an impaired-driving crash. Offer to let guests sleep on a couch or even the floor, offer Uber codes for discounted rides, or collect keys to keep inebriated guests from recklessly leaving.

Voices of Victims: Dianne Daniels

Dianne Daniels and her three daughters met up March 17th, 2012 for breakfast, just as they did every Saturday.

After breakfast Dianne, her daughter, Shakeila Vickers, and her grandson Vincent Vickers decided to spend the afternoon at the park. Vincent, who was 9 years old at the time, earned straight A’s and loved to play basketball. On this day, Vincent’s basketball tournament had been cancelled, so he decided to bring his best friend Tyler Biggins with him to the park. The four of them enjoyed a relaxing time together, laughing and taking in the beautiful weather.

Ms. Daniels eventually went back home, while Shakeila, her husband Vince Vickers, and the boys went out for dinner. Later that evening, Ms. Daniels received a call from the hospital stating that Ms. Vickers, her husband, and the two boys were involved in a crash. While on their way back home from dinner, an impaired driver on the drug “spice” rear-ended their truck. Shakeila , her nine-year-old son, and his friend Tyler Biggins died  in the crash. Vince Vickers was the only survivor.

Shakeila, pictured with her son, loved to volunteer and serve her community through her warm personality.

“Shakeila was loved by everyone, she had a smile that was very contagious that made everyone around her smile,” said Dianne.

After the crash, Dianne and her family connected with Florida MADD advocate Kristen Allen. Ever since then Ms. Daniels has been sharing her story at Victim Impact Panels.

“I do the things I do because I don’t want any other family to have to go through what I had to go through. I lost two members at one time…..”

Dianne and her family created the Keila & Vincent Memorial Foundation, which provides scholarships to high school students in the memory of Shakeila and Vincent.

Why We Walk: To Remember Our Angels Abby and Hannah

At the heart of MADD’s mission is a desire to support and assist the thousands of people who lives are needlessly impacted by the senseless crime of drunk driving. But, as a Walk Like MADD Manager, it is not a part of the mission I frequently come into contact with. 

That changed when Shari Marmon decided to walk. 

Shari’s daughter Abby and her best friend, Hannah, were killed by an alleged underage drunk driver in Illinois Jan. 10, 2015. Shari wanted to join the Pinellas Walk Like MADD event because Abby’s sister, Alison, lives in Pinellas County, although Shari lives on the east coast of Florida. Before the Walk, Victim Advocates visited the crash site and worked with both Abby and Hannah’s families, assisting them through the court proceedings and helping them secure assistance. 

The first time I spoke with Shari it was a very emotional call. Shari shared that she received my voice message at the exact time she needed to hear from someone. She expressed her appreciation for Victim Services, but added that she didn’t feel the therapy was helping her. After all, how could someone who hadn’t lost a child understand her pain?

I knew we needed to support Shari, so I arranged to have MADD’s Central Florida Office provide a peer mention, Amy Voelker. A friendship blossomed, and Shari started to come out of her shell. Abby’s sister Alison also received a peer mentor who inspired Alison to join the Walk Committee next year. 

Together, the team “Our Angles Abby and Hannah” raised more than $2,278 – more than double their goal – for MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving®. Their achievement is a direct result of their passion and creativity, especially on social media. 

On Shari’s birthday, she asked everyone to donate just $1. Then, on what would have been Hannah’s 21st birthday, they asked everyone to donate $21. For the event itself, the team procured amazing prizes, which they gave away at the team alley booth. The drawing included a 50/50 split between their team and the winning team.

But more than their fundraising, Shari found a lot of healing by participating in Walk Like MADD. Over the course of the months leading up to the walk, I noticed in my conversations with Shari that she started taking on a tone of conviction. Shari used Walk Like MADD to find purpose and as a way to give back. Hannah’s mom, Dawn Porter, flew all the way from Illinois for WLM Pinellas, and I had the honor of crossing the finish line, hand-in-hand with Shari and Dawn. 

For WLM Pinellas, I lived MADD’s mission. Not only did this team far surpass their goal, but, by taking a personal approach and getting to know them, we were able to activate the MADD network and provide them the services they really needed to start healing.

Through Shari and many of my other teams, I found a new purpose in my job and why I do what I do every day. Dawn and Shari are looking starting a walk in the area where the crash happened now. This experience has changed both of their lives.

VIDEO: New National Board Member Heather Geronemus

By MADD National Board Member Heather Geronemus

I'm honored to serve on the National Board of Mothers Against Drunk Diving. I came to MADD out of necessity and not by choice. It's out of gratitude for the services, the love and support provided to me, and with conviction to create change that I serve this organization on the local, state, and now National level. 

Many of the people that serve with me are also victims. Many of them are industry leaders who are compelled to serve and help us move our mission forward. It's an honor to sit at the table with each and every one of these individuals who choose to spend their time and talent to create a future of no more victims.  

As a board and an organization we will stay laser focused on the Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving, seeking to get ignition interlocks for first-time offenders passed in all 50 states. Meanwhile, I want every person out there to know that they have the power to end drunk driving too.

When your plans include drinking always include plans for a non-drinking designated driver. This is how you can create change, choosing person by person to make a difference and save a life, possibly your own.

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