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Answering Our Critics
By Jan Withers | November 29, 2011| 78 Comments | Filed in: Drunk Driving

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



Submitted by Unemployable 26 at 04:06 PM on September 18, 2014
I Received a dui three years ago for driving a motorized scooter around the neighborhood while intoxicated. Please tell me why this outweighs everything else I've done in my life and why I can't find a decent job to feed my family. Lets save lives. lets allow people back on their feet rather than making them feel like they have nothing left to lose.
Submitted by BANDA at 05:43 PM on September 11, 2014
I completely agree with the above comments i have a son who needs mental health evaluation and instead i have to leave my job to take him to all the mandatory classes for a DUI.. a whole new breed of people are going around committing other crimes as they have lost their jobs or cant get a decent job they have lost their license to operate a vehicle and end up committing suicide as they have nothing to live for .. you only have to have a child and be a parent to know the uselessness we have reduced our kids to instead of getting the real help a alcoholic needs we torture them further.
Submitted by Pat at 09:44 AM on September 10, 2014
I too have had multiple DUI's but it's not MADD's fault. There is a word called Personal Response-a-damn-bility! You made multiple bad choices before you got your DUI. You chose to go out and drink, you chose to drink over the legal limit, you chose, even with that voice in your head telling you that you might get caught, you still crank up your car, and chose to drive home rather than call a cab,friend,sibling, or co-worker. Because you deep down think you won't get caught. Then when you do, you want to point the finger. There are children walking this earth today, that would not be here, if it were not for stricter guidelines that have made a few second guess driving drunk because the risks outweigh the rewards. Me being one of them. I got 4 arrests in 5 years for DUI, and have not been in trouble in 7 years because I know the consiquinces that await if I mess up. And even first offenders make a choice. If you haven't educated yourself on the laws that's your fault, not MADD's. You don't shoot someone, because you know the penalties, you don't steal, because you know what will happen, you don't assault or cuss out a police officer who pulls you over for speeding because you realize the ramifications of those actions. And DUI is not a victimless crime! You just don't put others interest above your own when you chose to drink and drive, you decide to become the victim when you get caught and say well nothing happened so what's the big deal! What if something did happen, not like you could jump in a time machine and go change it. And that is the whole point everyone is missing! It is a crime that you chose to commit that could drastically change someone's life FOREVER because of actions you decided to take! There is no grey area here! I don't think anyone sitting in jail for vehicular homicide as a result of DUI is there because they set out that night to kill someone. And yes, I believe addiction is a disease, and a very much treatable disease, but forcing someone in rehab never has worked, and never will. They have to want it themselves, and the courts and legal troubles are a big motivator in making someone want to make different life decisions. Quit blaming MADD for your problems, step in the nearest bathroom, look in the mirror, and catch a big ol dose of man the hell up, and take responsibilities for your actions, and thank God you didn't kill someone when you made a choice to drive drunk. And the average person drives intoxicated 50 times before ever convicted of a DUI. So if you got arrested your very first time you ever decided to drink and drive, I will truly sypothize with you and say yes, u got handed a very shitty card in life, just as these MADD mothers have. But for the other 99.9% take some personal response-a-damn-bility for your actions, and the consiquinces of those actions.
Submitted by TR at 10:18 AM on September 3, 2014
I am the 18 year old that got one DUI...I am now 26, with a Master's and can not get work - thanks to extreme anger. MADD is out of control! MADD is ignorant, misleading and irresponsible...and their campaign is not saving lives or fixing problems - Great Job!
Submitted by Truthbtold at 02:49 PM on August 18, 2014
Unlike many of the comments I have read here today my son has had 4 DUIs he has spent 2 years in prison, lost his job,family and reputation among his children's friends parents. Wouldn't you think he was in need of help? We'll help is not what he has ever gotten. 1st DUI-he was pushing his car out of the rain as it stripped running. A Berks county policeman stopped and asked what the problem was. He smelled alcohol and asked him to take a breathalyzer test he refused and so he was convicted of a DUI for not blowing. Chances are he may have failed it anyway. BUT now, the money spent on lawyers, fines, and court costs, and the loss of his job give him no reason to stop drinking but instead the spiral down begins! Yes now he is breaking the law with no drivers license while driving himself to par time jobs Stops after work DUI # 2 He now does some time in a county prison. When released ....walla DUI 3. ( do we see an alcoholic pattern here?) Alcoholism runs in my family. Mother, aunts ,uncles Yada yada yada... Now he goes to prison for 2 years has been devorced and no chance to recover. He is in debt tens of thousands of dollars, no job , no family! His family is still supportive and his ex-wife still supports him emotionally.. He has given them the house he renovated ( he was a master carpenter and a hard worker.) but had no way of supporting them and the house bills Now? DUI 4! His 3rd DUI resulted in him hitting a parked car. Otherwise he has been blessed with not hurting anyone. Yes it could have happened! Now he is facing a lot of time and he is depressed. Here's my POINT.....instead of putting this man in debt he cannot ever recover from, with results in loss of family, children who visit their father in a prison....and more consequences then most people will ever understand.......COULD THEY HAVE GOTTON HIM HELP,!!!!??? Probably would have cost he tax payers and those loving him a lot less. I believe the only people who could possibly understand this loss are the Mothers Against Drunt Drivers Yes they have lost one of the most precious things life offers..however They have the vindication of "An eye for an eye". I am sorry for their loss. Truly! We are reminded each day of their loss but no one offers our family acts of kindness and we have not hurt anyone Thank God! Please if anyone out there knows how to move on from here please share the knowledge. Oh did I mention he had a court hearing he didn't show for? We never got the notice. Soooo the police surrounded the house ..SURROUNDED...came in with a search warrent and in front of his children who we're visiting him hand cuffed him and took him away! You should have seen his face and the and the faces of his children. Can't imagine what my neighbors think....murder?
Submitted by i know its over at 10:39 AM on July 19, 2014
I am 23 years old, offered DWAI instead of DUI after the police offer was discovered to be lying on the police report. I spend my evenings on the highway overpass, trying to think of a reason not to jump off. there aren't any.
Submitted by 4titude at 01:44 PM on July 10, 2014
MADD you did not post my first comment for whatever reason so I will try again: Your core statement, the one most repeated by the media is this: drunk drivers kill 16,0000 Americans a year - an impressive statement. With so many homicidal maniacs loose, your organization seems necessary and even noble. The only problem is this statement is a flat out lie. You know it is a lie. Where do you arrive at this statement from - apparently from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, who puts it like this: 16,000 Americans are killed each year in alcohol related accidents. You have consciously took the term alcohol-related and twisted it into alcohol caused. What does alcohol related mean? It means someone involved in the accident had a measurable (not necessarily illegal) amount of alcohol in their system. They are not saying someone with alcohol in their system caused the accident - or was driving or was even inside a vehicle (ie. and intoxicated pedestrian hit by a sober driver). But, somehow, it is always the drinkers fault. My license was pulled by the secretary of state and for a drinking/driving conviction and I have NEVER even been in an accident - EVER. I have lost my job, my freedom, my self respect - not to mention an incredible amount of income because of legislation your organization has spearheaded in the name of making the roads safer. It seems you have destroyed countless lives with your propaganda and vindictive crusade (how many people have lost jobs, families, homes, life savings, committed suicide because of the unfair and excessive legislation your special interest organization has forced into law.). Drunk drivers that kill are a problem but not all those who have a beer, drive, and have the misfortune of being stopped by overzealous and greedy law enforcement agencies are killers - stop treating us as such, please.
Submitted by wpm327 at 12:54 AM on July 8, 2014
I had a DWI on my 51st birthday {March 27}. Since then I have lost my job, all of my savings, quite a few friends and a great deal of hope. I am {was} a teacher. When applying for jobs you are asked if you have had a DWI and I answer with the truth. I do not get interviews. Just received my lawyer's first bill. God help me, how do I start over at 52?
Submitted by Maggy at 08:00 PM on July 2, 2014
DUI laws are a disgrace. Intoxalock is more dangerous than driving totally hammered. Someone should try it. I remember the night my 21yr old son got a 2nd one. He fell to the floor in tears and said he wanted to die. My husband and I sat with him for hours trying to convince him life wasn't over. It pretty much was and still is. I could talk on this crooked subject for hours. People do commit suicide over this. I know a mother of 3 who is paying $65 3 times a week for a new mandatory counceling law. She makes very little $ and this bs is taking food off of her table. MADD I can honestly say I despise you and our government. My younger one got a bicycle one. It is treated as driving. No license for 7yrs. Pathetic.
Submitted by The truth at 05:47 PM on March 24, 2014
Jan Withers, Your organization is as much of an assault on individuals freedoms as is the current administrations. The work of the MADD organization does not save lives, I can assure you that. I will not even bother dissecting the extremely skewed statistics your organization spews, everyone with any due diligence can dissect your statistical rhetoric in the blink of an eye. Where are the statistics regarding repeat offenders that are actually alcoholics, that continue to drive regardless of the consequences and repercussions that a first time offender faces. When I received my DUI, I was 18 years old; just 6 months out of high school. I was sentenced to 3 days in jail and 3 days in a hospital out-patient program. I had no record what so ever. At the out-patient facility there were two individuals that had 12 and 16 DUI's respectively. The counselor made it apparent this was not an uncommon occurrence. I am now a 4.0 masters prepared medical professional and can STILL barely obtain work. I had an extremely difficult time getting approval to even take my state board of nursing examination that I aced in 75 questions (the minimum you can possibly take to pass). My entire life is a struggle, I cannot obtain jobs that forward my career as "Sorry, our company has a strict no DUI policy". Well sorry, I was 18 years old and got kicked out of my friends house by his girlfriend cause they were fighting, in the middle of winter, and drove home while noone was on the road at 330 in the morning, I was speeding 5 over; not swerving, not crashing into anyone. I cannot use my degree to it's full potential, I cannot get hired at large state hospitals. I cannot save lives. Your organization has lobbied for repercussions that destroy lives, not improve lives in order to make the world a better play; no one is reformed due to your organizations work. Your organizations lobbying efforts have simply made the state's more money and add it to decline of this nation's economy. It is easy to visualize the 16 time repeat offender, or alcoholic that kills a family and think tougher sanctions are needed; that is the drive of someone looking for revenge, your Ghandi/Mother Teresa Guise is only fooling others looking for revenge. The fact is, your lobbying has not helped a single life or prevented a single death. You have only led the march to the complete demise of anyone arrested for drunk driving and that includes numerous intelligent, highly educated individuals that could and should be able to leave that mistake in the past and not be affected by it in every facet of their life because some other individuals, the outliers, need to have something done to improve safety on the roads. How many public transportation systems have you designed and implemented? How much research as to the best and most viable treatment strategies and regimens? MADD has done nothing for those who are truly a danger to society. MADD is typical politician style rhetoric, no change; only ulterior motive. And it is not for the better of our societies.
Submitted by James D at 04:38 PM on February 17, 2014
I have absoluty ZERO respect for MADD they have ruined more lives then have saved. MADD is nothing but a group of extremeist forcing their ideology on people. Obviously a DUI/DWI is bad, but to ruin a person's life for one misjudgement. Why should someone's life be ruined because a cop wanted to meet their quota? And are back by the hypocrites of MADD.
Submitted by wastamylife at 03:10 AM on February 15, 2014
I hv a MASTER DEGREE & DIDN'T KILL ANYONE, yet in 7 years NO ONE wl give me work, in exception of bartending/waitressing.(Irronic, Aye?!) Strange how purposeful Murderers, Thieves, Drug Addicts,and Pediphiles of ALL People DO(Get 2nd chances?!) After 7 yrs. prior to my arrest, now YOU CAN PAY for MY Vitality through YOUR Taxes as I Quit & realize NO ONE will even give m4e a chance in my profession. PURPOSEFUL CRIMINALS DO GET REHABILITATION FOR ILLEGAL DRUGS, NT ALCOHOL (Whn your Nt deemed an Alcoholic!! Done Trying, & Thanks TAX PAYERS, guess Obama QWelfare on You ;)
Submitted by criminal for nothing at 02:55 AM on January 29, 2014
I have caused no property damage. I have hurt no one. Committed no bodily harm or mental anguish. I have not diminished anyones quality of life. I am simply paying for crimes others have committed ...thanks to you Madd. I have now bear the sins of others and have been crucified.
Submitted by Unconstitutional at 11:17 AM on January 26, 2014
Fear mongering, brainwashing, propaganda, testimonials. These are the weapons of MADD and the NHTSA. Contrary to popular MADD dogma, not all deaths on our roadway are because of "drunk drivers." In fact more people die from speeding - the number 1 reason for needless deaths on our roadways and highways. If MADD is all about saving lives then they will be in favor of setting a maximum speed limit of 25 MPH on our roadways/highways. This initiative will save 25,000 lives per year. What about people who text while driving? This endeavor kills more young people than alcohol while driving... Why are we not cracking down on these offenders to the same tune of people who drink and drive? First offense TWD (Texting while driving) needs to be a mandatory 10 days in jail and 9 months license revocation period. The lies, the distortions, coming from MADD, are sickening. "11,000 alcohol related fatalities in 2011." Of Which -2,500 were drunk pedestrians killed by sober drivers while crossing the street. -2,000 were single vehicle accidents. -500 were hit and runs where no driver was ever found. (Only assumed to have alcohol in their system.) As previously stated; Fear mongering, Brainwashing, Propaganda, Testimonials. These are the weapons of MADD and the NHTSA
Submitted by maddsucks at 10:45 AM on January 21, 2014
Thanks MADD for the PHOTO ID POLICE STATE and RUINING America.
Submitted by tommyboy at 01:40 AM on November 17, 2013
Innocent before proven guilty gets thrown out the door when it comes to DUI. If the suspect god forbids hits someone, or something, then by all means throw the book at them. If not, impound their car, make them find a ride home, and pay a hefty fine. The mandatory jail time and license suspension is cruel and unusual punishment for a victimless crime unless you are a repeat offender. You people at MADD should be ashamed of yourselves for the nonsense you spew, and the lives you are ruining, not saving.
Submitted by Citizen at 08:19 PM on November 13, 2013
A DUI is misdemeanor solely based on a WHAT IF? situation. Yes, I believe there should be consequences for driving under the influence. However, they should be solely based on your driving record. Those who received DUIs should take classes, do community service, and pay fines. HOWEVER, to be AUTOMATICALLY convict them of a misdemeanor and be lumped into a category of criminals is ridiculous. The only defense for a prosecutor is that the person was driving over the limit and WHAT IF situations could occur. WHAT IF the driver hurt someone? WHAT IF they hurt themselves? Yes, these are legitimate questions, but WHAT IF they didn't? However, a conviction for a person who is a law bidding citizen, pays taxes, and their bills on time a DUI causes them stress and emotional turmoil. I, like others, should not be lumped into a category of actual CRIMINALS because we made a mistake. A DUI has taught me a lesson, but to be honest I would have learned that lesson with the insidious amount of classes and talks about being an alcoholic that you are required to take for a restricted license by the DMV. But when it is almost impossible to fight a DUI in court and have a misdemeanor on my record as I am trying to find a new job and get my masters degree, that is depressing because now employers see my record and refuse to give me work. What I, as many others have contributed to society no longer matters because we are lumped into the same category with actual criminals. WHAT IF the person you convicted of a misdemeanor was a manically depressive person and this criminal label caused them to commit suicide? MADD should press for stricter DMV laws or fines, BUT remember you are convicting and lumping otherwise regular good people for a WHAT IF? crime.
Submitted by Ben at 09:40 PM on November 1, 2013
MADD supported the unfair suspension of a high school student who stopped a friend from driving drunk. This action is in direct violation of MADD's own mission statement. M.A.D.D. now has no credibility. If you're as outraged as I am about MADD's terrible behvior, help us put them out of business by boycotting anybody who provides any type of financial support to them.
Submitted by Tony Naples at 09:01 PM on October 19, 2013
You claim in response to critics that .08 is more than 2 drinks. You are wrong. BAC depends on many factors. Weight, food, water, etc. The consequences have become unreasonable because MADD is unreasonable. If you really care why not support community efforts to fund portable professional BAC meters for people to purchase so they can make informed decisions before choosing to drive. DUI, a misdemeanor, has longer more debilitating consequences than many felonies. Your stated goal is zero tolerance. Be clear about that.
Submitted by Anonymous at 04:59 PM on October 9, 2013
My husband got a DUI because he drove through a checkpoint and admitted smoking two days before. Thanks to your outrageous lobbying, he is now unemployable for the next 8 years. Now I know, "marijuana is bad", but when it comes to impaired driving we know two things: One, the effects of marijuana don't last longer than a few hours (and certainly not two days) and two, evidence of it will remain in one's bloodstream for up to thirty days. My husband, who was extremely responsible when it came to impaired driving (I.e. if he had half a beer, he'd call a cab) was thrown in jail COMPLETELY SOBER and is now labeled as a criminal until we can get this expunged from his record. By the way, FELONS can have their FELONIES expunged THREE YEARS before he can get this removed. He has a degree in automechanics. I'll give you one guess if he's working in his career field. drunk driving is horrible. But these stupid laws you've lobbied for have ruined our life. Thanks, MADD.

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