Affluenza teen Ethan Couch doesn’t appear to be leaving jail anytime soon.
A Tarrant County judge sentenced him to 720 days – 180 days for each of the four people killed – as part of his adult probation, but also told the defense team they could argue for a small time period.
MADD snapped into action, writing an open letter to the judge asking him to stick to his original sentence, which, while not enough for the four lives lost and the people who were injured, at least included some jail time. Quickly, more than 2,000 people signed their agreement at www.madd.org/720NotEnough.
Less than 10 hours after sharing the letter, the judge reaffirmed the adult probation terms.
In mid-May, Couch, who has been in solitary confinement since moving to the adult jail system, was moved to a slightly-less confining jail.
Less well-known than Ethan Couch but no less infuriating is the case of Missouri-resident Dylan Meyer, who killed a Springfield woman while drinking underage and then driving. He received five years’ probation, but he was scheduled to head back to court after allegedly violating probation 11 times in two months.
Again, MADD rallied support to draw attention to the REAL victims by asking supporters to add their voice with ours. We asked 5,233 people to sign their name to represent the 5,233 alcohol-related crashes that occurred in Missouri last year. Currently, we are at roughly 1,500.
The hearing was pushed back until June 14th from May 12th. We still need your support! Join us in support of the REAL victim and her family, who must live with the loss of a loved one.
For me, the first half of each year includes visits to state legislatures around the country. There are meetings with lawmakers, testimony before various committees and interviews and news conferences with the media. It’s all to support the great efforts of MADD’s Government Affairs Office as they work to strengthen drunk driving laws in every state - a vital component of our mission to end drunk driving.
The march forward continued this spring with the unanimous passing of an all-offender ignition interlock law in Maryland (Read more about Noah's law), an optional first-offender Ignition Interlock law in Georgia, a DUI Child Endangerment law in Connecticut, improvements to Ignition Interlock laws in Tennessee and Mississippi and a law extending the look back period in Kentucky to ten years. Ohio, just this week, moved a step closer to strengthening its ignition interlock laws when the state House approved Annie's Law. This critical steps forward mean fewer families will suffer from the 100% preventable crime of drunk driving.
There also is legislation to improve drunk driving laws pending in California, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, North Carolina and Michigan. Forward progress was made in Florida and other states… and we’ll be back to continue the work next year - and every year after until we create a future of No More Victims®.
It’s rewarding to see the effort of so many people at MADD pay off with laws that will save lives. You can help in your state. Your voice matters and so does your vote. That’s why your representatives will listen to you when you call. So please join us in the Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving.
You CAN make a difference!
Today, we continue to celebrate National Police Week by highlighting Corporal Jeremy Potocki.
“My dad was caught by angels that day” said Corporal Potocki’s son after a near-death crash almost took the boy’s father.
Normally, towards the end of May, Corporal Potocki and his wife would plan to celebrate their wedding anniversary. However, on May 25, 2014, he stopped a vehicle that was driving 38 miles over the speed limit. As he approached the car, he smelled alcohol from inside of the vehicle. When asked, the driver and passenger informed Corporal Potocki they had been drinking the night before. He asked the driver to exit his vehicle, and, in order to ensure safety, Corporal Potocki asked the driver to move to the right side of his patrol car to avoid being hit by oncoming traffic.
Seconds later, a drunk driver crashed into Corporal Potocki’s patrol vehicle.
Witnesses indicated the drunk driver had been driving on the shoulder for about 1/10 of a mile. When the rear of the patrol vehicle was struck, the front right fender struck Corporal Potocki’s right hip, and he was thrown over the hood of the vehicle. He landed in a ditch about 20 feet away. The drunk driver’s BAC was 0.26, well over the .08% federally-mandated limit. The offender was convicted and sentenced to two years in jail for injuring the passenger in the vehicle and five years of probation for injuring Corporal Potocki.
Corporal Potocki says that the crash changed his and his family’s lives forever. He suffered a mild traumatic brain injury, fractured L5 vertebrae and C4 vertebrae, and was told by physicians that he could not return back to being a state trooper. Being a trooper was a dream he had worked for since high school. Recovery was extremely difficult, the medication he was given had side effects that impacted his entire family. His healing process is still ongoing.
In a split second, the drunk driver changed his life, and he may not be able to return to the work he loved. Since volunteering with MADD, he has become involved in Victim Impact Panels, which he says has been therapeutic and provides an opportunity to share his story. Corporal Potocki is thankful for his family and their dedication. They are what keep him going every single day.
Today, we honor Corporal Jeremy Potocki for his service as an officer upholding the law and working to keep the public safe.
Velocity's Chris Jacobs is lacing up his walking shoes for Houston Walk Like MADD.
MADD Southeast Texas wants Chris to have the largest team at this Saturday's fundraiser. Chris has created Team #OverhaulinMADD, so sign up to walk and join his team by registering at madd.org/overhaulinMADD. Chris will walk, chat, and visit with his team. Just imagine your selfie with Chris!
As of now, the largest team has 43 people. Does he think he can hit his goal?
"Absolutely," said Chris. "We are up to the challenge. Join Team #OverhaulinMADD."
The event is Saturday, May 21st at Oyster Creek Park in Sugar Land, Texas from 9:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Victims, survivors and supporters will line up for this non-competitive 5K run/walk to remember lost loved ones, inspire change and commit to a nation with No More Victims®.
"I'm proud to walk with my colleagues at Velocity to support a cause that benefits everyone," said Chris. "There is an easy solution to ending drunk driving – just don't do it!"
This walk is especially important because Texas led the nation in drunk driving fatalities in 2014 with 1,446 tragic and preventable deaths. Harris County had the highest number of drunk driving fatalities with 203.
"The best motivation for staying safe is to consider the consequences...It's not just your own safety you're putting at risk. It's everyone's safety," said Chris.
He added that when he does celebrate with alcohol, it is typically near his neighborhood. "I stay close to home a lot, so walking is my favorite alternative to get home after a drink. Beyond that, Uber is always the choice for me. It's easy and much cheaper than making a bad decision."
Funds raised through Walk Like MADD help further MADD’s lifesaving mission in the Houston area by supporting its Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving, which calls for high-visibility law enforcement, ignition interlocks or “in-car breathalyzers” for all convicted drunk drivers and support for the development of advanced technology. Jacobs also serves as a national spokesperson for Velocity’s “Drive Smart,” an advocacy campaign created by Velocity with the help of MADD to encourage and raise awareness for safe driving practices on America’s roadways. Velocity is also the national media sponsor for Walk Like MADD.
"As part of Velocity’s Drive Smart program, I’m honored to walk alongside so many who want to support MADD’s efforts to end drunk driving. I encourage everyone in the Houston community to come join all of us on May 21,” said Chris.
Don't miss out on this great event! Join Chris Saturday for Houston Walk Like MADD.
As part of our recognition of National Police Week, we'd like to highlight a fallen hero.
Scott grew up dreaming of serving as a police officer.
At the age of 14, he joined the Police Explorer Post with the Bridgeton Police Department. After graduating high school, he enlisted in the Navy and was stationed in Oak Harbor Washington. Then, he went through the police academy in Washington and started working as a police officer. Scott wanted to move back home to be closer to family and friends and, he, eventually, became a police officer in Missouri.
He was a very easygoing guy and quite the prankster. You would never see him without a smile. He spent his free time just hanging out with family and friends, and he was the happiest when he was jet skiing at the Lake of the Ozarks. When Scott wasn’t on his jet ski, you could find him running, working out, or watching WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment). The sparkle in Scott’s eye was his son, Tyler. Tyler was 8 years old when Scott was killed.
Officer Scott Armstrong was on a routine patrol in early morning hours of January 12, 2005. Calls were coming into 911dispatch about a wrong-way driver. The dispatcher was trying to provide the information to Officer Armstrong over the police radio, but he was unable to respond. The driver had already hit him. The drunk driver, traveling in the wrong direction, collided with his patrol car. Officer Armstrong died at the scene.
Today, we honor Officer Scott Armstrong for his service as an officer upholding the law and working to keep the public safe.