Mothers Against Drunk Driving® (MADD) and the organization’s National President, Colleen Sheehey-Church attended Couch’s long-awaited transfer hearing today to support the prosecution’s motion to transfer Couch from juvenile to adult court and to support the victims of the violent crime committed by Couch.
“With all of the tragedy and heartbreak caused by the Couch case, for the first time, we can see a glimpse of hope from the criminal justice system,” said MADD National President Colleen Sheehey-Church whose 18-year-old son Dustin was killed by an underage drunk and drugged driver.
The transferring of Couch’s case from juvenile to adult court was pivotal to ensure that Couch’s probation extended beyond his 19th birthday in April 2016.
Last month, MADD launched the #FightAffluenza petition demanding Couch’s case be transferred from juvenile to adult court. MADD asked the nation for 30,000 signatures; within 24 hours MADD exceeded their goal. This morning before the transfer hearing, MADD privately provided 50,782 signatures to the prosecution.
“50,782 people and millions more are experiencing hope and encouragement after today’s outcome. But, our fight is not over,” continued Sheehey-Church. “This is only the first step. The sentence Couch received two years ago was a joke, and it’s more than overdue for the criminal justice system to replace his privilege with prison. We ask that the judge makes prison time a condition during Couch’s next hearing.”
Couch violated the terms of his probation when he left the country after failing to appear at a December meeting with his probation officer. Now that Couch will be in adult court, MADD wants the judge to make prison time as a condition at Couch’s first hearing in adult court.
“Couch needs to serve time behind bars. We ask the nation to closely follow this case, follow MADD’s next steps – and support us. We need everyone to rally against the country’s complacency of drunk driving, and fight Affluenza and the litany of other excuses that drunk drivers use to justify the killing and injuring of innocent people,” Sheehey-Church urged.
For those personally impacted by the Couch case, or any one impacted by drunk driving, drugged driving and underage drinking consequences, MADD Victim Services are available at no charge, serving one person every fifteen minutes through local victim advocates and MADD’s 24-Hour Victim Helpline, 1-877-MADD-HELP.
MADD volunteers and staff have logged thousands of hours at state capitols across the nation advocating for ignition interlock laws for all drunk driving offenders ever since we launched the Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving® in 2006.
MADD knows these in-car devices save lives. To prove it, we did what MADD has done for more than 35 years — we examined the data.
What we found was startling: Ignition interlocks have prevented 1.77 million attempts by a driver to drive with an illegal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher.
Because these drivers have already been convicted of drinking & driving at least once, the ignition interlock is installed with the understanding that they will not drink and drive again at any BAC level.
Yet, interlock-restricted drivers have been stopped nearly 12.7 million times with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .025 or higher.
These numbers highlight three facts at the core of MADD’s Campaign:
- Drunk driving offenders MUST be monitored before receiving unrestricted driving privileges.
- Simply trusting an offender to honor a license suspension does NOT protect the public.
- Ignition interlocks do what NO OTHER alcohol program can — block drunk drivers from starting their vehicles and using them as deadly weapons.
This report shows the alarming number of prevented drunk driving attempts — broken down by state — and recommends how every state can improve their ignition interlock laws to better protect the public from this completely preventable, violent crime.
Twenty-five states have ignition interlock laws that apply to all drunk driving offenders. States like Arizona and West Virginia have seen a reduction in drunk driving fatalities of 50 and 40 percent — reductions that are unheard of in traffic safety.
MADD will continue to evaluate and push for stronger laws in every state so more offenders will use interlocks.
In the 25 states that don’t have all-offender ignition interlock laws, MADD calls on legislators to pass these lifesaving laws this year. With nearly 10,000 people killed every year as a result of drunk driving, we must act now to create a nation of No More Victims®.
Read the report here and talk to your legislators about enacting all-offender ignition interlock laws.
Dear MADD Supporter,
While most people have been focusing on San Francisco because of the Super Bowl, I was there the week before the big game for another important gathering… a candlelight vigil honoring and remembering those who lost their lives to drunk and drugged driving.
Survivor Steve Domenick with MADD National
MADD National President Colleen Sheehey-Church
Singer/Songwriter James Nagel performed
About 100 people came to the Cliff House, an iconic building on the shore of the Pacific Ocean, to share stories and memories of their loved ones senselessly killed. The historic landmark, where more than 30 ships crashed onto the southern shore of the Golden Gate, seemed a fitting location to honor and remember the
friends and family members we have lost.
MADD Bay Area Program Director Natasha Thomas, MADD National Board Member Mary Klotzbach, and I told our stories and shared messages of hope with victims, volunteers, the California Highway Patrol, San Francisco Sheriffs, and first responders.
I met a survivor named Steven, who was just seconds from his home when a drunk driver t-boned his car, killing his wife instantly and severely injuring him. After several months of recovery in the hospital, Steven now lives with a traumatic brain injury that will never heal. He has lost everything in his life that meant anything, but it is his passion for MADD that I will remember. Steven and his wife will be in my heart forever.
Another experience I will remember for years to come was listening to singer/songwriter James Nagel, a Bay area native whose rendition of “Tears In Heaven” left everyone present a little teary eyed. This event, like so many other events, renewed my commitment to MADD’s mission. I will continue this fight for them and many others until there are NO MORE VICTIMS! That is my promise to you.
Like many MADD affiliates, the San Francisco MADD Bay Area is small, but they are mighty! The hearts and souls of the staff and volunteers are big. Since opening that area, they have made an impact in the area by continually growing the number of victims supported and continuing the mission to end drunk and drugged driving.
I want to thank Domenica Cardenas for her energy in putting the vigil together and giving the final remarks about the love for her Dad, who was killed before Father's Day in 2013 by a drunk driver.
Thank you San Francisco Bay Area......until I see you again....I honor all you do.
Imagine kicking off your Super Bowl 50 celebration with a private dinner with one of the National Football League’s top Tight Ends followed by an exclusive, private tour of San Francisco?
You don’t have to imagine.
One lucky person and two of their friends will win #DinnerWithDelanie and an Uber tour of his San Francisco spots with Tennessee Titan Tight End Delanie Walker. To enter, simply sign MADD’s pledge to play the Most Valuable Position in the NFL: The Designated Driver. Visit www.MADD.org/SB50.
MADD, through its partnerships with the NFL and Uber, is working to keep the Super Bowl safe by asking people to plan ahead to have a designated driver.
Sadly, four years ago, Delanie Walker lost two of his strongest supporters – his aunt and uncle – to a drunk driving crash after playing in the 2008 Super Bowl for the San Francisco 49ers. Like thousands of other people, it only took a split second for a reckless decision to irrevocably change his life forever. Nearly 10,000 people are killed in drunk driving crashes every year.
Designating a driver BEFORE the party is one way to lower those statistics and prevent another tragedy.
The winner will be randomly selected from pledges and announced at a press conference in San Francisco on Thursday, Feb. 4th. One fan and their lucky friends will claim their prize that evening.
Let’s make Super Bowl 50 the safest one yet!