Last week I was interviewed on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal and there were many callers – many of whom were critical of my work through MADD. One guy said he hoped I slept at night and another said George Washington would be disgusted as I was ruining people’s lives who were convicted of driving drunk. The accusations were extreme – the convicted people lives were ruined because their arrests cost them so much financially and then they could never get jobs again, just for having a couple of drinks, having a little fun and making an innocent mistake. Never mind that drinking to a .08 BAC level is not just a couple of drinks. Never mind that Americans are very aware of the destruction drunk driving can cause. Never mind that they are breaking the law by driving after drinking excessively. Never mind that it isn’t innocent and it's not a mistake – it is a criminal act. Never mind that they are responsible for their own consequences by committing this crime. And, never mind that more often it devastates the lives of people they victimize. That is why it is illegal. That is why it is not just a mistake.
But you know, I believe George Washington would be proud of us at MADD. He was all about the protection of our rights as citizens. I believe we have the right to be safe from threat of violent outcomes that impaired driving causes. I do sleep at night because of our hard work to save lives. I will continue to be vocal, I will continue to lobby for effective countermeasures against drunk driving, and I will forever work to save lives and prevent injuries caused by impaired driving.
Jan Withers, MADD National President