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Answering Our Critics
By Jan Withers | November 29, 2011| 73 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 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.
Submitted by Depressed at 01:03 PM on September 23, 2013
If Madd really wanted to help people, they would push the courts to make us spend the 10k on rehab, not beautiful new court houses, raked leaves, litterbugs and pretty planted flowers. Paying fines to do that work isnt community service helping anybody. All the crap I have to go through and worrying if Im going to have a roof over my head doesnt help me want to stop drinking, it just makes me want to pick up a good stiff drink. Learn about what helps an alcoholic or addict. It's a serious psycological and provrn physical disease. The only thing that helps in my case is AA and it was the only free program in my sentence. And they only require me to go 3 times a week. What a joke.
Submitted by idonthaveanickname at 08:37 PM on August 31, 2013
I am frustrated and disgusted with the DUI laws in this country... one mistake and someone is branded for 10 years...even if no on was hurt or injured. I've seen job ads that state 'no DUI or Felony convictions!" The DUI is a misdemeanor that was expunged following an ARD program but is it lumped in with a felony??? what the heck! This is unreasonable. The entire criminal justice system in this country is unreasonable.. why does the US incarcerate so many people. I guess all those who can't get a job because of one lousy DUI should just collect welfare.. is that what MADD wants.. more people dependent on government money?
Submitted by Carie at 07:27 PM on August 29, 2013
People will always drink and drive because there is no other way of getting home. Instead of ruining peoples lives MADD should come up with ways of affordable cabs, shuttles to get people around and back home safe. Then everyone is happy. People like to socialize and enjoy life.
Submitted by JD at 12:23 PM on August 21, 2013
First off I do not condone drinking and driving and here I am only talking of cases with non-Assault or Manslaughter charges. Someone getting a DUI needs to look at their drinking and be charged as a 1st time offender. Multiple offenses usually is an indicator of a far larger issue. People need treatment not mandatory Jail time. Rioting in Jail, FELONIES on records, being put on an ankle bracelets expected to NOT drink, AGAIN WITHOUT TREATMENT for a much larger problem. Society itself is failing and allowing this behavior to continue. MADD has strong armed the Gov into enforcing are only a bigger burden on the safety of all tax paying citizens. Emotional Eye for an Eye will not bring back loved ones. Normally, functional members of society are being thrown in Jail for months coming out and need more Government programs, having Job impacts, and without treatment will do it again WITH or WITHOUT a license. Overcrowding in jails!! If there were real intentions to stop drinking and driving from happening everyday Breathalyzers would be installed standard in all vehicles. It would not help those with addictions get better but keep everyone, including those who enjoy wine with dinner, on the road safe! Most people drink & drive, AGAIN not a good thing but REMEMBER 1 drink YOU ARE OVER THE LIMIT in most states. 1 drink impairs your skills far more then realized. Breathalyzers standard in vehicles are the only way to stop drinking and driving. Throwing them in Jail with no treatment does not solve the problem!!!!
Submitted by Life ruined at 05:15 AM on August 2, 2013
Getting a DWI is the end of the world... At least it was for me. In all honestly you are better off executing people who drive drunk then have them face charges. I feel like taking my own life pretty much every day. I didn't crash my car, had perfectly fine motor functions and passed my field sobriety test. The officer smelled alcohol on me he asked me to blow which I did due to feeling fairly confident that I would pass. Opps, now I have flashbacks of jail, no money to my name, and have been extremely depressed since the event but cannot afford a psychologist. Forget getting a new job, getting a higher education, joining the military, improving my life in any way shape or form. Your mindless crusade against people who make simple mistakes ruins more lives than it saves. Thanks MADD!

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