Sam Riney, a police officer for the city of Alton in Illinois, was on duty December 19, 2005 (the week before Christmas) when his squad car was hit head on by a repeat impaired driver.
Sam sustained severe physical injures including a brain injury known as brain shearing. He was not expected to recover from the brain injury and doctors predicted he would not have a meaningful recovery and that he would be permanently disabled, requiring total care.
The crash occurred two days after Sam’s birthday and a week before Christmas. His wife, Kate, was pregnant with their first child at the time and they were looking forward to celebrating Sam’s birthday and Christmas. Celebrations that year would have to be put on hold. Instead of celebrating the holidays with family and friends, Sam was recovering from brain surgery. His prognosis was very poor and he wasn’t expected to recover. This was extremely difficult for them to deal with. Kate shared this took an emotional toll on them at what was supposed to be a very happy time for them – Sam’s birthday, the Christmas holiday and the arrival of their first child. Instead, that Christmas was spent in the ICU waiting area. There was no celebration.
Sam’s offender was charged with aggravated DUI conviction, driving on a suspended license and driving while uninsured. He and his passengers suffered only minor injuries in the crash that forever changed Sam and Kate’s life.
Sam did recover. After six months of rehabilitation and another six months of light duty, Sam was able to return to full duty as a patrol officer.
Once Sam was home and healthy, they had a “Christmas in July” sort of celebration at home to thank their family for all of their support throughout the injury and recovery.
Although the crash affects their life every day, Kate and Sam try not to think about. For them, continuing to relive the tragedy would only give the offender’s actions more power. Instead, they do what they can to educate others. Kate speaks at Victim Impact Panels for MADD, sharing Sam’s story and how that day changed their lives. Sam is a strong advocate in his professional work as a police officer fur DUI enforcement. He was honored by MADD and the State of Illinois for his efforts in DUI enforcement.
Drunk driving deaths drop below 10,000 for first time since 2011
Today, MADD learned that the number of drunk driving fatalities on our nation’s roadways dropped below 10,000 for the first time since 2011. According to data released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were 9,967 fatalities involving an alcohol impaired driver in 2014 (compared to 10,076 in 2013), accounting for 31 percent of all traffic fatalities. Yet NHTSA also noted that overall traffic deaths for the first half of 2015 are up as much as 8.1 percent. This is troubling, especially given that the holiday season is upon us, one of the most dangerous times of the year for drunk driving.
While the 2014 decline in drunk driving fatalities is welcome news, there is still much to be done to create a future of No More VictimsTM. As a nation, we must stop these senseless tragedies.
Today, MADD issues a national call to action and challenges every state to pass all-offender ignition interlock laws and improve existing laws to ensure all offenders use an ignition interlock as soon as possible after a drunk driving offense. Ignition interlock laws are a key feature of MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving®. Since the Campaign was launched in 2006, drunk driving deaths are down by 26 percent. The newly released NHTSA data shows a continued decline in states with ignition interlock laws; such as Arizona, which has experienced a 50 percent reduction in drunk driving fatalities since its law passed in 2007. Drunk driving fatalities in West Virginia have dropped 40 percent since 2008; and other states – such as Oregon, Washington and Hawaii – have had reductions of 25 to 33 percent.
MADD also encourages every law enforcement agency to participate in NHTSA’s upcoming Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign to increase enforcement during the holidays. Law enforcement plays a pivotal role in preventing drunk driving, and MADD applauds their tireless work to protect the public during the holidays and year-round.
The public can also plan ahead for a safe ride home this holiday season and show their support for law enforcement by participating in MADD’s Tie One On For Safety® campaign. For more information, visit madd.org/toofs.
We are excited to announce MADD’s “2015 Legislators of the Year” — 70 lawmakers across the country honored for their steadfast commitment to saving lives and advancing MADD’s ultimate goal — creating a nation of No More Victims.
In Congress, U.S. Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey advocated for ignition interlocks for all drunk driving offenders, one of MADD’s top legislative priorities as part of our Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving launched in 2006.
MADD National Board of Directors Vice Chairman Steven Benvenisti, Esq., a lifelong New Jersey resident who was almost killed by a drunk driver while in college, presents a Legislator of the Year award to Senator Booker at his office in Newark.
Other legislative champions:
Senator Jimmy Hickey authored SB 81 and SB 877. Representative Sue Scott Authored HB 877 and Representative Mary Hickerson authored SB 81. Both of these measures were signed by the Governor improving the state’s all-offender ignition interlock law.
Senator Jerry Hill authored SB 61, which extends the end date of the four-county interlock pilot program until July 2017. These counties include: Alameda, Los Angeles, Sacramento and Tulare.
MADD California presents Sen. Jerry Hill with a 2015 Legislator of the Year award on Tuesday.
From left: Program Manager Aaron Wade, Program Coordinator Domenica Cardenas, Bay Area Program Director Natasha Thomas, Senator Hill, California resident Mary Klotzbach, who is a member of the MADD National Board of Directors, and Tom Klotzbach.
Representatives Beth McCann and Lori Saine, along with Senators John Cooke and Mike Johnston, authored legislation which makes a fourth DUI a felony. Thanks to their efforts, Colorado is the 46th state to enact a DUI felony law. The law allows judges to order ignition interlocks for up to five years for second-time offenders. MADD also proudly recognizes Representatives Rhonda Fields and Polly Lawrence, who serve as Victim Rights Caucus Chairs. MADD appreciates the leadership of these lawmakers to advance victim rights.
MADD Awards 2015 80—Rep. Lori Saine presents a pen that was used to sign Felony DUI and an official legislative tribute to Chris Citron, who advocated for the law (with Fran Lanzer).
MADD Awards 2015 77—MADD Colorado Executive Director Fran Lanzer with Legislators of the Year Rep. Beth McCann, Deb Grenzke, Chris Citron, Sen. John Cooke, Geoff Grenzke, Sen. Mike Johnston, Rep. Lori Saine, Frank Martinez.
MADD Awards 2015 75—MADD Colorado Executive Director Fran Lanzer presents Legislator of the Year awards to Rep. Rhonda Fields and Rep. Polly Lawrence.
Representative Tom Rice authored HB 205, which creates a first-time offender interlock law. The legislation is pending in Committee ahead of the 2016 session.
The state’s all-offender interlock law went into effect in 2009, but lawmakers remain focused on making sure the law is working by taking much-needed improvements. Representatives Barbara Wheeler, Ron Sandack, and John Anthony authored HB 3533, which requires the use of ignition interlocks for five years for all repeat offenders. Representative Elaine Nekritz authored HB 1446, which requires fourth-time offenders to use an interlock for the rest of their lives. Senator Steve Stadelman authored SB 627, which allows any first-time offender to go on an interlock immediately after revocation, as opposed to waiting 30 days. MADD also recognizes Secretary of State Jesse White for convening a working group of stakeholders to make these recommendations, and for his efforts to enforce the law and stop drunk driving. MADD thanks Representative John D'Amico for supporting HB 3533, HB 1446 and SB 627.
Senator Dennis Kruse authored SB 444, which would require the use of an ignition interlock for convicted drunk drivers who drove intoxicated with a child passenger in the vehicle.
Lael Hill, Victim Services Specialist with MADD Indiana, presents Indiana Sen. Dennis Kruse with a MADD 2015 Legislator of the Year award.
Representative Sandy Salmon authored HB 186, which would create an all-offender interlock law in Iowa.
Representative Dennis Keene and Senator McGarvey authored legislation requiring ignition interlocks for all repeat offenders, refusals, cases of child endangerment and first-time offenders with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .15 or greater. The new law went into effect earlier this year.
Senator Julie Raque Adams authored legislation that would have eliminated the option for DUI Shock probation, which allows drunk drivers who cause fatal crashes to have multiple-year sentences reduced to days. Senator Dennis Parrett authored legislation that would have extended the amount of time a DUI offense remains on an offender’s record from five to 10 years.
Delegate Ben Kramer authored legislation creating an all-offender interlock law. MADD hopes lawmakers advance the legislation in 2016.
Senator James E. Timilty authored all-offender interlock legislation, SB 1895. The bill is pending in the legislative process.
Mary Kate DePamphilis, Program Manager for MADD Massachusetts,
presenting a 2015 Legislator of the Year award to Senator James Timilty last week
Senator Tonya Schuitmaker authored SB 175 and SB 176, which would help ensure Michigan’s ignition interlock law is working to stop drunk drivers. Representative Klint Kesto authored similar legislation in the House (HB 4979, HB 4980, HB 4981)
Representative Kim Norton authored HF 1112, creating an all-offender interlock law. The legislation carries over into 2016.
Representative Caleb Jones and Senator Will Kraus championed SB 254. This new law allows the Department of Revenue to extend the period a motorist is required to maintain the ignition interlock device on his or her vehicle by three months if the ignition interlock detects an attempt to tamper with the device. This new law is critical in ensuring interlocked offenders have learned to driver sober.
Senator Nicholas Scutari authored all-offender interlock legislation S 385/A 1368. The legislation was championed by co-sponsors Assemblyman Ralph Caputo and Assemblyman Joseph Lagana.
Senator Torraco authored SB 499 creating extra penalties for driving drunk with a child passenger in a vehicle. Representative Pacheco authored HB 303 allowing for law enforcement to conduct no refusal activities.
These lawmakers coauthored legislation creating (HB 877/SB 619) creating an all-offender interlock law. The legislation is pending consideration in 2016. Legislative champions include: Senators Josh Stein and Buck Newton, along with Representatives Jonathan Jordan, Darren Jackson and John Faircloth.
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 passed the Senate and is pending in the House. Senator Lloyd Smucker co-sponsored SB 290 and also authored SB 839, which creates a DUI felony law for third-time offenders.
Senator Joel Lourie authored S 428, which would improve alcohol serving requirements. Senator Larry Martin authored S 428 relating to alcohol server training, S 178 improving field sobriety test requirements, and SB 590 improving the interlock law. Senator Brad Hutto authored S 465 and SB 590 improving the state’s ignition interlock law. Representative Rick Quinn authored H 3974 improving the ignition interlock law. Representative Ralph Norman authored H 3441 relating to DUI Video recording requirements so that more DUI arrest result in convictions. Representative Anne Thayer authored H 3169 improving South Carolina’s ignition interlock.
Thanks to the efforts of lawmakers, four new laws went into effect on July 1. HB0042/SB1315 by Representative William Lamberth and Senator Randy McNally requires that a person being convicted of vehicular assault or vehicular homicide serve a mandatory minimum sentence before being eligible for probation. HB0120/SB1316 by Representative Lamberth and Randy McNally creates a Class C Felony offense of aggravated vehicular assault, which is vehicular assault with certain aggravating factors (such as prior convictions for alcohol-related traffic offenses or a blood alcohol concentration of .15 or greater).
HB00045/SB0030 by Representative Dale Carr and Senator Doug Overbey requires a person who commits aggravated vehicular homicide on or after July 1, 2015, to serve 60 percent of the sentence imposed before becoming release eligible; provided, however, that the person must serve at least 45 percent of the sentence imposed after the sentence-reduction credits are applied.
HB1342/SB933 by Representative Terri Lynn Weaver and Senator Janice Bowling, clarifies that a deceased victim’s family has a right to have a photograph, determined by the court to be a reasonable depiction of the victim prior to the crime, be admitted during trial.
Representative Jason Villalba authored HB 2246 making Texas the 25th state to enact an all-offender interlock law. This new law was greatly helped by the leadership of Representative Senfronia Thompson and Speaker Joe Straus and by Senator Joan Huffman who carried the legislation in the Senate.
Senator Mike Padden authored legislation making a fourth DUI a felony. The legislation fell short in the House after passing twice in the Senate in 2015. MADD hopes it will make it to the Governor in 2016.
Representative Dave Heaton and Senator Van Wanggaard authored SB 222/AB 266, which if passed, improves Wisconsin interlock law. Representative Andre Jacque and Senator Roger Roth authored AB 43/SB 29, which allows for law enforcement to request search warrants from judges if a first-time offender refuses.
Representative Jim Ott authored many OWI reform measures including measures to: Criminalize first offense (AB 363, requires court appearances of OWI offenders (AB 352), mandatory minimums in injury crashes (AB 353), eliminate lookback period for second offenders (AB 444), third offense felony (AB 447), increase penalties for repeat offenders (AB 445), and AB 446 providing for mandatory minimums in fatal drunk driving crashes. Senator Alberta Darling authored legislation that requires court appearances of OWI offenders (AB 352), mandatory minimums in injury crashes (AB 353), eliminate lookback period for second offenders (AB 444), third-offense felony (AB 447), increase penalties for repeat offenders (AB 445), and AB 446 providing for mandatory minimums in fatal drunk driving crashes.
Representative Terese Berceau and Senator Tim Carpenter authored AB 363 criminalizing a first OWI offense.
Thank you to all these legislative champions for helping MADD improve laws across the country and ultimately save lives as a result. You can take action to help MADD advance lifesaving legislation by going to www.madd.org/takeaction. Every action you take helps us get one step closer to a future of No More Victims.
MADD has had an incredibly busy and successful legislative session since our last update in March. Work continues this Fall on state and federal legislation that are key components of MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving, and thanks to you we are making a difference in states like Texas, Illinois and California!
On Sept. 1, Texas officially became the 25th state with an all-offender interlock law after an all-out effort by dozens of MADD volunteers and staff who emailed, called and visited Texas legislators. A huge thank you to Representative Jason Villalba and Senator Joan Huffman for championing this effort!
Also in September, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a law that extended a four-county pilot program requiring interlocks for all offenders through July 1, 2017. That gives us time to renew our efforts with Sen. Jerry Hill to pass an all-offender bill for the entire state in 2016.
And in Illinois, Gov. Bruce Rauner signed a law in September that allows fourth-offenders to obtain an interlock-restricted license instead of license suspension for 10 years. While putting offenders back on the road may sound counterintuitive, MADD supports ignition interlock use over license suspension because studies show that 50 to 75 percent of drunk driving offenders continue to drive on suspended licenses. We’d rather require drivers to prove they are sober before they drive than to simply hope they will choose to not drive on Illinois roadways. Next door in Missouri, Governor Jay Nixon signed a law that requires proof of compliance before an ignition interlock can be removed — further strengthening the state’s all-offender interlock law.
Additionally, several states have pending legislation that requires mandatory ignition interlock laws for all drunk driving offenders, and Congress is close to passing the federal highway bill, which helps fund the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS) and anti-drunk driving grant programs.
On Oct. 21, MADD National President Colleen Sheehey-Church traveled to Harrisburg to ask members of the Pennsylvania House drunk driving task force to pass an interlock bill for offenders with a .10 and above. The Senate passed the SB 290 in September, and Colleen made an impassioned plea to House legislators to pass the Senate bill without changes or further debate. The members agreed to move the bill forward in the coming weeks.
In Massachusetts, Colleen and Executive Director Mary Kate DePamphilis will testify Nov. 9 before a Joint Transportation Committee to advocate for an all-offender bill. Meanwhile, work continues in New Jersey, where an all-offender ignition interlock bill was conditionally vetoed by Gov. Christie after passing the House and Senate with overwhelming support.
MADD Hosts First National Day of Remembrance
On December 3rd, MADD locations across the country will honor those killed, injured or emotionally devastated by drunk and drugged driving and underage drinking consequences with a National Day of Remembrance. This is a chance for the public to come together in communities nationwide and online, and show that victims and survivors of these senseless tragedies are not alone – that they will always have a place at MADD.
From candlelight vigils to victim tributes to online efforts, morning gatherings to luncheons to evening events, and more, MADD is organizing community functions from coast-to-coast to remind people that their grief, their losses, their pain is not forgotten—that it matters and that MADD is here to help.
Every day in America, 28 people are killed in drunk driving crashes. That’s one person every 52 minutes. And every 2 minutes, someone is injured in a drunk driving crash. Annually, more than 10,000 people are killed and another 290,000 are injured as a result of drunk driving. Countless victims, survivors, families and loved ones are left to cope with the aftermath of these violent – and 100% preventable – crimes.
This December 3rd, you can help MADD draw attention to the toll this preventable crime takes on our communities by participating in a Day of Remembrance event near you. Drunk and drugged driving victims are also invited to post an image of their loved ones using #MADDremembers via their social media accounts or on MADD’s Facebook page. They may also visit madd.org/placesetting to dedicate an online place setting tribute to honor loved ones.
Victims and survivors of drunk and drugged driving and underage drinking consequences are not alone – there is a shockingly high number of them. And inexplicably, more are unwillingly added to that tragic group every day.
Together, we can reach and serve more victims. Visit madd.org/dayofremembrance for more information about MADD’s National Day of Remembrance and to find a local event you can attend.