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New teen-focused website gets teens, shares lifesaving message

Would you believe two out of three teens do NOT drink? More importantly, would your teen or child understand the dangers?

Misinformation is everywhere – from movies and TV to social media and peer groups – when it comes to the topic of underage drinking. 

That’s why we’re excited to share a newly-launched, teen-focused website – www.PowerofYouth.com – aimed at sharing with teens the very real dangers of drinking underage and how to stand strong in their commitment of no drinking before the age of 21.

Educating the next generation about the dangers of underage drinking and riding in a vehicle with a drinking driver is a critical part of MADD’s mission – and one every parent needs to share with their child.

Based on feedback from a teen focus group, the site highlights the newly-refreshed Power of You(th)® booklet and seeks to empower teens to make safe and healthy decisions. The site:

  • Encourages teens to be part of a group – the millions of teens who don’t drink
  • Lays out the dangers in an easy-to-understand and direct fashion – with consequences teens can understand and value
  • Shares strategies for how teens can approach the topic with their parents and friends

Visit the site today and share it with your child or teen. Helping them understand how they can be part of the group AND not drink underage will decrease their chances of being hurt or killed in an alcohol-related trauma and give them a shot at a great future. 

So, we want to do everything in our power to ensure another mother or father doesn’t experience such a devastating loss. Let’s protect and empower our teens.

Together, we can make a difference!


The future begins - autonomous vehicles

A September news conference in Washington, DC, allowed many of us to dream about a day when there will be NO MORE VICTIMS®.  In front of more than 80 media outlets from around the country, United States Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced the federal guidelines for the development of autonomous vehicles… cars that would essentially drive themselves.  

“Automated vehicles have the potential to save thousands of lives, driving the single biggest leap in road safety that our country has ever taken," he said to the group,

As Secretary Foxx introduced me, I thought about living in a world with no drunk driving crashes. It’s what we work for every day, and it is amazing how these vehicles could propell us closer to that goal.

“From MADD’s perspective, we really do share the same goal. It’s an incredibly important step in dramatic improvement of highway safety. Our goal is to save lives," I said to those gathered, 

Administrator Mark Rosekind of the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration echoed the sentiment in saying, “We are moving forward on the safe deployment of automated technologies because of the enormous promise they hold to address the overwhelming majority of crashes and save lives.”

Henry Claypool, Policy Director, Community Living Policy Center, University of California San Francisco said, “Automated vehicles hold enormous potential to improve the lives of millions of Americans like me who because of a disability, age, or other condition are not able to enjoy easy access to personal transportation.”

As I said that day, “We see a future where self-driving cars will save thousands of lives on our roads. A self-driving car can’t get drunk. A self-driving car can’t get distracted. And a self-driving car will follow the traffic laws and prioritize safety for pedestrians and bicyclists.”

NO MORE VICTIMS. We’ve taken another step toward that goal. 


Voices of Victims: Brandon Tyler Bennett

By Brandon's mother, Brenda Holden

PFC Brandon Bennett served as an enlisted soldier in the Texas Army National Guard starting in 2010, even before he graduated high school.

He is and will forever be a member of the 236th Engineer Company, 111th Engineer Battalion, 176th Engineer Brigade currently located in Lewisville, Texas. Brandon enlisted in the Texas Army National Guard just 25 days after his 17th birthday, because he had a passion for protecting others since he was a little boy. In high school at L.D. Bell, he even had the National Guard emblem on his senior class ring, which shows his determination and dedication for serving others and our country. On his landmark 18th birthday, he was at basic training in Fort Jackson, South Carolina doing exactly what he wanted to be doing, which was beginning a life of service.

Brandon touched so many lives during his short 20 years on this earth! To his many friends and to his family, Brandon was an extremely kind, loving, and generous soul. Whether providing safe haven for those with nowhere else to go or by simply lending a sympathetic shoulder to cry on, he always tried to do the best he could to make any situation better.

Brandon was known as a great soldier, a great "battle buddy", and an even greater friend to all he touched. His life ambition was to become a police officer, to serve the community we live in.

Since the sentence in Texas for intoxication manslaughter ranges from 2-20 years in prison, I am absolutely elated that the perpetrator received the maximum sentence of 20 years for taking the life of my son, Brandon Tyler Bennett. Even though 20 years is not nearly enough to pay for my son’s life taken, it does display some justice served for the crime.

Every day, we live with the reminders of our Brandon, especially since the crash occcured two miles from where we live in our own neighborhood. Brandon lived his entire life within an area of less than 10 miles. The elementary school, junior high school, high school, and community college are all in the same neighborhood. Memories of his childhood and young adult years are everywhere we turn; where he attended schools, played baseball/football/soccer, birthday parties, friends’ sleep-overs, and the list goes on and on.  No mother or family should have to endure this much heartache and pain every day when this senseless act could have easily been prevented.

MADD was with us every step of the way during the emotional, heartbreaking journey. It was invaluable having a MADD representative present through the entire trial to not only support us, but to also to help us make sense of the proceedings. 

Ultimately, drinking while intoxicated always has the potential to end tragically. There are no do-overs. Just don't do it.


VIDEO: Minnesota Walk Like MADD


MADD names 2016 Legislative Champions

MADD’s 2016 Legislators of the Year


MADD is excited to announce our “2016 Legislators of the Year”
— 69 lawmakers across the country honored for their dedication to saving lives and advancing MADD’s ultimate goal — creating a nation of No More Victims of the 100 percent preventable crime of drunk driving.

We thank the following elected officials for authoring and championing live-saving legislation in 2016: 

California: Senator Jerry Hill (pictured to the left with Program Director of MADD California-San Francisco Bay Area Natasha Thomas) authored SB 1046 to improve California’s ignition interlock law by incentivizing the use of an ignition interlock after the first offense and requiring interlocks repeat offenders and offenders who cause injury or death. SB 1046 would allow all first-time drunk driving offenders the choice between using an ignition interlock for six months or receiving a one-year license suspension with the possibility of route-restricted driving privileges after 30 days. The legislation is awaits the Governor’s signature. 

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (pictured below with Executive Director of MADD San Diego Steve Lykins and former National Board Member and longtime volunteer Nina Walker) authored AB 2121, which would require training for California bartenders, servers, and managers in responsible beverage service (RBS).  Specifically, AB 2121 seeks to help individuals who serve alcohol meet their statutory requirement to not serve obviously intoxicated patrons or minors by requiring participation in an RBS training program approved by the Department of Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC).  AB 2121 also is pending the Governor’s signature.

Colorado: Rep. Rhonda Fields and Rep. Polly Lawrence have proven themselves to be strong defenders of crime victims’ rights. Rep. Fields and Rep. Lawrence co-chair the Crime Victim Rights Caucus to educate other legislators on important victim rights issues. During the legislative session and throughout the year, Rep. Fields and Rep. Lawrence fight for the rights of those who have been so unjustly impacted by the crimes of others.

Senator John Cooke and Senator Mike Johnston also worked with Rep. Lawrence to pass important legislation to strengthen the victim impact panel program in Colorado. The purpose of the Victim Impact Panel program is to educate people convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs about the lasting and long-term effects of substance impaired driving and to change thinking and behavior to prevent future DUIs. Each year, MADD conducts 156 separate Victim Impact Panels in 19 cities across Colorado — educating approximately 13,000 drunk and drugged driving offenders. 

Connecticut:  Fourteen lawmakers teamed up to work on SB 365 or Public Act 16-126, creating a DUI child endangerment law, as well as HB 5629 or Public Act 16-182 An Act Concerning A Diversionary Program for Persons Under Age Twenty-One For Motor Vehicle Violation And Crimes Related To Underage Drinking. They are: Representative Al Adinolfi, Representative Joe Aresimowicz, Representative Christie Carpino, Senator Eric Coleman, Senator Leonard Fasano, Representative Mary Fritz, Representative Stephen Harding, Senator Tony Hwang, Senator John Kissel, Representative Themis Klarides, Senator Martin Looney, Representative Rosa Rebimbas, Representative Richard Smith and Representative William Tong.

Washington, DC:  Councilmember Mary Cheh authored the Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Act which was signed into law this summer. The measure also requires ignition interlocks for all drunk drivers for at least six months.  

Florida: Senator David Simmons and Representatives Scott Plakon and Robert Cortes authored DUI reform legislation SB 1244/HB 555 in 2016.  Originally, the legislation increased penalties for drunk drivers who refuse a chemical test, including to require all offenders who refuse to utilize an ignition interlock.  Due to pending Supreme Court cases and concerns from lawmakers, the legislation was amended to require ignition interlocks for six months for all drunk drivers. Representative Katie Edwards authored HB 1363 increasing the use of ignition interlocks through DUI courts. 

Georgia:  Representative Tom Rice authored HB 205, which creates a first-time offender interlock law and allows any drunk driver and offender who refuses a chemical test to utilize an ignition interlock.  Prior to the passage of this legislation, Georgia was one of only a handful of states that failed to utilize ignition interlocks for first-time offenders.  MADD is also pleased to honor Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle for his efforts in guiding this lifesaving legislation through the Senate. 

Indiana: Representative Timothy Wesco authored successful ignition interlock fix-up legislation HB 1130, which will help boost the number of interlocks used in Indiana. 

Maryland: Delegate Ben Kramer and Senator Jamie Raskin authored Noah’s Law, making Maryland’s ignition interlock law a model for other states. Delegate David Fraser-Hidalgo authored Alex and Calvin’s Law, which toughens the state’s penalties for serving alcohol to those who are under 21.

Massachusetts: Senator James Timilty authored all-offender interlock legislation SB 1895.  The legislation was amended onto another bill that passed the Senate — the furthest all-offender interlock legislation ever made it in Massachusetts. The legislation ran out of time in 2016. Massachusetts is one of only two states that fails to utilize interlocks for first-time offenders (Idaho is the other). 

Michigan: Representative Klint Kesto authored all-offender ignition interlock legislation HB 5456. Senator Tonya Schuitmaker authored SB 808, which would allow the Secretary of State to create a MADD fundraising license plate and assign all proceeds from the sale of these plates to assist MADD in carrying out its mission.

Mississippi: Representative Patricia Willis, Representative Andy Gipson, Senator David Parker, Senator Sean Tindell, and Representative Kevin Horan worked on legislation to strengthen its ignition interlock laws and improve coordination of DUI records throughout the state. 

Missouri: Representative Caleb Jones for his efforts on HB 2255, which allows any person who is required to have an ignition interlock device installed to apply to the court for a variance to drive an employer-owned vehicle without the device. The exemption shall not apply in certain situations, and the offender may not drive the employer-owned vehicle with certain passengers or for personal use.  HB 2255 was amended onto SB 657 to eventually become law.  

New York:  Senator George Amedore and Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas authored S4769A and A4719B, which improves the drugged driving law. Assemblyman John McDonald III, Assemblyman Dean Murray and Assemblyman David McDonough also cosponsored this legislation. S4769A and A 4719B gives prosecutors and law enforcement the tools necessary to hold drugged drivers accountable  — including those who drive under the influence of bath salts, synthetic marijuana and difluoroethane. Current New York law allows driving under the influence of these substances.

Ohio: Representative Gary Scherer authored HB 388, or Annie's Law, which incentivizes the use of interlocks for first-time offenders. The legislation passed the House in May and is pending consideration in the Senate. 

Pennsylvania: Senator John Rafferty and Representative Keith Greiner authored SB 290/HB 278 requiring interlocks for all first-time offenders with a BAC of .10 or greater.  The legislation was signed into law by Governor Wolf earlier this year.  

Rhode Island: Senator Stephen Archambault authored all-offender ignition interlock legislation SB 2370 requiring all DUI offenders applying for a hardship license to have an ignition interlock.  Representative Gregg Amore authored the House version of this lifesaving legislation. 

South Carolina:  Representative Eddie Tallon authored H 3165 to address the problem of DUI offenders simply moving to mopeds and being able to continually drive drunk without any recourse. 

Senator Larry Martin authored S 178 attempting to address the state’s serious issue of losing DUI cases over minor issues with the videotape of the arrest, and S 428 to require approved responsible beverage service training for those who sell alcohol. 

Tennessee: Senator John Stevens and Representative William Lamberth authored ignition interlock fixup legislation SB2065 and HB 1843.  

Representative Lamberth also authored with Senator Randy McNally HB 1478 and SB 1572 boosting penalties for offenders on their sixth offense. 

Representative Mark White authored legislation improving DUI reporting (HB 2199 and HB 1427).  Senator Mark Norris authored similar legislation to improve DUI reporting (SB 2577 and SB 2576). 

Senator Norris also authored SB 1156 boosting penalties for impaired drivers making certain DUI offenders illegible for probation.  Representative G.A. Hardaway authored similar legislation HB 0401. 

Representative Joe Pitts and Senator Kerry Roberts authored Tyler Head’s Law (HB 1514 and SB 1730), establishing a roadside memorial sign program for victims of impaired driving.  

Senator Doug Overbey and Representative Dale Carr authored SB 35 and HB 576, effective January 1, 2017, which makes those convicted of vehicular homicide, when alcohol and or other drugs are involved, ineligible for probation.

Vermont: Representative Willem Jewett authored all-offender interlock legislation H 560, which, was amended onto H 876, making Vermont one of three states plus Washington D.C. to enact an all-offender interlock law in 2016.  

Wisconsin:  Representative André Jacque and Senator Roger Roth authored legislation allowing for law enforcement to obtain a search warrant for first-time offenders who refuse an alcohol chemical test. The legislation, SB 29, was signed into law.  

Senator Alberta Darling and Representative Jim Ott authored legislation making all fourth drunk driving offenses felonies. 

Senator Van Wanggaard authored interlock improvement legislation SB 222.

Senator Chris Larson authored all-offender interlock legislation SB 484.


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