Today, MADD National President Colleen Sheehey-Church and MADD North Carolina Executive Director LaRonda Scott were joined by two dozen volunteers for a Lobby Day and Press Conference in Raleigh to urge the North Carolina General Assembly to pass a tougher drunk driving law.
North Carolina needs SB 619/HB 877 to expand the ignition interlock law to all convicted drunk drivers. Currently, North Carolina requires ignition interlocks for repeat offenders, those who refuse a chemical test and first-time offenders with a blood alcohol concentration of .15 and above.
Nearly one-third of traffic deaths in North Carolina were caused by a drunk driver in 2013. That year, 371 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes across the state.
More must be done, Sheehey-Church told the crowd.
“We can’t wait another year to stop the carnage that on average claims one life every day in North Carolina,” she said.
The MADD volunteers will visit legislators throughout the day to share their stories and ask them to update North Carolina’s law.
MADD National President Colleen Sheehey-Church with North Carolina Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest
We don’t usually think of the Fourth of July as a holiday for exchanging gifts. But today, we’re asking you to change that tradition.
You see, the most generous gift you can give—on this holiday weekend or any day of the year—is the gift of safety. So as you prepare for your celebrations in the upcoming days, please download a Non-Drinking Designated Driver Coupon and present it to someone you love.
Planning ahead is the best way to make sure parties are both fun and safe. By offering to give someone you care about the gift of a ride home, they can celebrate carefree. And you can save a life.
Every year, nearly 200 people are killed in drunk driving crashes during the July Fourth holiday. But when you offer to be a non-drinking designated driver, you can change that statistic. So please present someone you care about with a Non-Drinking Designated Driver Coupon this Fourth of July. And encourage your friends and family to do the same.
It doesn’t cost you a thing to give the gift of a designated driver. But if you allow a friend to drink and drive, it might cost them their life. So please plan ahead and offer to be a non-drinking driver before the celebrations begin.
Last week, Governor Greg Abbott signed HB 2246 into law, requiring drunk drivers to install an ignition interlock if they choose to drive during their license suspension period following an arrest. The governor’s action makes Texas the 25th state in the nation to enact an all-offender ignition interlock law.
The Texas Senate unanimously passed HB 2246 on May 27, following a House vote of 143-1 on May 5. With the Governor’s signature, the law goes into effect this September.
“This is a great day for Texas, the home state of MADD’s national headquarters,” said MADD National President Colleen Sheehey-Church. “I will be forever grateful to Representative Jason Villalba, Senator Joan Huffman and all of the MADD supporters who worked tirelessly to pass this life-saving law, and I want to thank Governor Abbott. I hope other states, such as North Carolina, Ohio, California, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island, will soon follow Texas’ lead and pass all-offender ignition interlock laws.”
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 40 percent of all traffic deaths in Texas are caused by a drunk driver. Texas led the nation in drunk driving deaths in 2013, when 1,337 people were killed by a drunk driver.
MADD supports the use of ignition interlocks for all offenders — instead of license suspension alone — because studies show that license suspensions are difficult to enforce and often ignored. Interlocks protect the public while allowing offenders to continue with their jobs, family obligations and other responsibilities.
“Ignition interlocks have reduced drunk driving deaths in other states by 30 to 45 percent,” said Jaime Gutierrez, MADD Texas Executive Director. “This bill could save hundreds of lives in Texas, where too many families have suffered tragic losses at the hands of a drunk driver.”
As part of MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving® launched in 2006, MADD’s top legislative push in states is enacting all-offender interlock laws like HB 2246. When the campaign was launched, only one state, New Mexico, had such a law. Nine years later, Texas becomes the 25th state enact this lifesaving law.
Visit madd.org/takeaction to see if your state is one of the 25, and if not, contact your lawmakers now about this lifesaving legislation.
Earlier this month as part of our National Conference, we joined the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for the global unveiling of the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS) test vehicle.
The DADSS technology will automatically detect when a driver has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at or above .08 - the legal limit in all 50 states - and prevent the car from moving.
Watch the video to learn more about DADSS:
DADSS is one of the three steps of MADD's Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving®, which was launched in 2006 to bring about a quicker end to the leading cause of highway deaths. I am incredibly proud of the progress MADD and our partners have made in MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving, through high visibility law enforcement, passing laws in 25 states that require drunk drivers to install ignition interlocks, and in helping to secure funding and support for DADSS.
We have worked every step of the way with our partners in the federal government, the auto industry, and Capitol Hill to get funding authorized and appropriated to ensure DADSS succeeds. And we will continue our efforts until DADSS is ready as a safety option for the marketplace.
While we still have a lot of work to do, we are closer than ever to eliminating drunk driving.
So this Father’s Day, join us in celebrating both Dads and DADSS by sharing the video and spreading the word about the importance of this lifesaving technology and the promise it holds for a future of No More Victims.
By Skip Church, MADD National President Colleen Sheehey-Church’s husband and Dustin’s father
Father’s Day is a day that should be spent with your children, not with the tragic memories of your child being killed. But that’s what I’m left with because my son Dustin had his life taken away by a drunk and drugged driver.
Whether it’s Father’s Day or any other day, there is always someone missing. There is always an empty chair at Thanksgiving. The smiles of Christmas morning are gone. And every family gathering is somehow diminished because our boy with red hair and freckles isn’t there to light up the room.
It’s been almost eleven years since Dustin was killed and still, every day, I stir my morning coffee with a spoon he gave me. My life will never be the same.
Many of you who are victims understand that. But through MADD, you can make a difference for so many others. You can help make the Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving more than a slogan. You can make it a reality. My wife Colleen, MADD’s National President, and I are trying to do just that in honor of our son Dustin.
While Colleen advocates for MADD’s mission across the country, I work on getting lifesaving drunk driving legislation passed in our home state of Connecticut. My work ranges from testifying before committees, to meeting with State Senators and Representatives, to discussions with the Department of Motor Vehicles, Law Enforcement, States Attorneys and victims.
You can make a difference right where you are. You can show your support of law enforcement officers and the job they do in keeping drunk drivers off the road. You can talk to the lawmakers in your state about supporting legislation that requires convicted drunk drivers to use an ignition interlock. You can be part of a Walk Like MADDevent. You can be there for someone whose loved one has died or been injured in drunk and drugged driving crashes.
You can turn your tragedy into something positive by becoming a MADD Difference Maker. Be an agent for change. It won’t bring back the one you lost or reverse the injuries sustained because of a drunk or drugged driver, but it may save someone else’s life. Make this a Father’s Day that makes a difference.