Founded by a mother whose daughter was killed by a drunk driver, Mothers Against Drunk Driving® (MADD) is the nation’s largest nonprofit working to protect families from drunk driving and underage drinking. With the help of those who want a safer future, MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving® will end this danger on America’s roads. PowerTalk 21™ is the national day for parents to talk with their kids about alcohol, using the proven strategies of Power of Parents, It’s Your Influence™ to reduce the risk of underage drinking. And as one of the largest victim services organizations in the U.S., MADD also supports drunk driving victims and survivors at no charge, serving one person every 10 minutes at 1-877-MADD-HELP.

Together, these programs ensure that MADD achieves its lifesaving mission.

7 Phrases NOT to Say to Drunk and Drugged Driving Victims

Drunk driving crashes recklessly into a life, senselessly and selfishly destroying families and breaking hearts before continuing down the road to dispense more tragedy. This crime kills about 10,000 and injures around 290,000 people a year, leaving hundreds of thousands to pick themselves up and continue carrying on despite the overwhelming loss.

When someone loses a loved one to drunk or drugged driving or is injured in a crash, many people feel a common urge to offer comfort, but some words hurt more than others. Here are the top seven phrases NOT to say to a drunk or drugged driving victim.

1. They are in a better place. Although usually well-meaning, these words may resonate badly with someone who has lost a loved one in a drunk or drugged driving crash as they would rather have their loved one here with them.

2. It was just an accident. Accidents are something unforeseeable and unexpected. When someone chooses to drink and drive – that's not an accident. It’s a crash waiting to happen. Drunk and drugged driving crashes are 100% preventable.

3. Texting/speeding/any other distracted driving is just as bad as drunk driving. No doubt, other dangerous habits kill and injure people on our roads, such as speeding and distracted driving. But those two categories combined don't equal the number of deaths, not to mention injuries and property damage, caused by drunk and drugged driving. Comparing it diminishes the problem.

4. Saying nothing at all. After a drunk driving crash, friends can sometimes avoid saying the loved one's name or just simply not know what to say, so they keep their distance. But drunk or drugged driving victims want and need that support and permission to talk about their loss. Be a friend that will listen and stay close, even if you are uncomfortable. Follow the victim's cue. If they want to talk about their loss, just listen. If they don't want to talk, just be there for them.

5. You’re lucky to be alive.  Drunk driving victims and survivors might not feel lucky at all. They may feel traumatized, lost, and raw with emotions. Such statements may actually do the opposite of what you intend and hurt the person you are trying to comfort.

6. You need to forgive. Every victim feels differently about the crash and about forgiveness.  Some feel like they will never be able to forgive the person who caused the crash, others feel like it's very important for them to do so.  There is no right answer, so don't push people to do something they may not be able or ready to do.

7. Aren’t you over it already? There is no closure  following a drunk or drugged driving crash.  When someone is injured or killed they don't just “get over it”.  Crashes affect people in different ways throughout their lives, and they will likely never go back to where they were before the crash happened.

If you or someone you know is dealing with the devastation caused by a drunk or drugged driving crash, don't hesitate to call our 24/7 Victim Help Line at 1-877-MADD-HELP. Then, you will be connected with a victim advocate, who can help you navigate the courts, locate local resources, and connect with people experiencing a similar grief. Additionally, we have online chat available on our website during normal business hours.

Discover more about victim services today.

A message to the graduating Class of 2016

Dear Graduating Class of 2016:

Our son, Bryce Kennedy died in a tragic car crash on October 1, 2006. He was only 19. He was a young man full of hopes and dreams. With aspirations of finishing college, starting a family with the love of his life and living a full happy life.

The night before Bryce died we spoke to Bryce about hopes and his dreams. We reminded him that life is short and that we have to be careful with the choices that we make. And as Bryce usually did he said, “Mom relax, nothing is going to happen to me.”

On the night that Bryce died, he had gone out with friends. He made the choice to get into the vehicle with someone who had been drinking. I remember the phone ringing late in the night. It was one of Bryce’s friends saying that he had been in an accident and that he was at the hospital. My immediate thought is it couldn’t be that bad, the hospital had not called. But Bryce had not called either.

I immediately called the emergency room at the hospital, as a former employee I talked to a former co-worker who stated you need to come on and please be careful. As we got up and started dressing I recall calling our parents to let them know where we were headed, not knowing what was going on. I recall waking our daughter and telling her and the blood curdling scream that she let out, it will be forever etched in my mind. Your entire body starts to shake the uncontrollable shake as your imagination starts to wander with unthinkable thoughts and your heart races. The drive to the hospital was eerily quiet and as we flew down the freeway to get to the hospital. On the way we passed a scene with police, fire crews and ambulances. Big lights all around the crash scene. We just kept going knowing that our son was at the hospital only to find out later that we were passing the scene where it all started.

They took us straight in to see Bryce. There he was intubated with a nurse squeezing a bag for every breath he took. One nurse holding pressure on his head because of the severe open head trauma that he had. IV’s everywhere with fluids and blood hanging. This could not possibly be our son, the son who the night before said, “Mom relax, nothing is going to happen to me.” But it was him. Doctors, nurses and trauma surgeons all around us telling us there was nothing more to be done, the facts were that it was getting harder and harder to get a breath in and that his brain injury was severe but he was probably not in any pain. We were left with one of the hardest decision as parents, really as a human that we have ever made. With our numb bodies, feeling empty and completely alone, we made the decision to take Bryce off of life support and let him go. It has to be the single worst feeling that we have ever experienced in our lives.

We share our story because Bryce could be any of you, if you choose to drink or if you choose to get into the car with someone who has been drinking. We talk about choices because you make that choice, nobody else. Remember the choices that you make not only affect you they affect those around you.

Bryce is forever 19. The impact that Bryce has on other’s lives is not how he wanted to make an impact. Bryce had dreams, dreams that will always be just that, dreams. You, you have the opportunity to carry out your dreams, you have the chance to choose the perfect path, make good decisions, choose not to participate in underage drinking or impaired driving. If you take the time for just a brief moment to think about the choice that Bryce made that night and how Bryce’s family and friends feel about Bryce’s death on a daily basis, then you could understand what underage drinking and impaired driving can cost you and your family. Please stay safe.

The Kennedy Family

Bryce graduated from Cooper High School in 2005. He had been attending Weatherford Junior College. He would turn 29 this year. Bryce loved his family and friends, sports, the great outdoors and The Lord. His friends have all graduated from college, married and started families now. We are the grieving parents that never attended college graduation, that never attended that wedding or meet those amazing grandchildren that could have been. We are the sister who will always mourn the death of the big brother that was always looked up to. For us this is reality, reality of how underage drinking and impaired driving changed our lives, forever.

Please share this~ if it helps only one~

UPDATE: Affluenza teen and Dylan Meyer

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
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.

Missouri drunk driving offender’s hearing pushed back

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.

Sign today to ask that Dylan Meyer have his probation revoked.

National Police Week: Corporal Jeremy Potocki

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.

Do you know a police officer or department we should recognize as part of National Police Week? Connect with us via Facebook or Twitter, where we are sharing our thanks with these heroes.

Chris Jacobs accepts Walk Like MADD challenge

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 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.

National Police Week: Officer Scott Armstrong

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.

Do you know a police officer or department we should recognize as part of National Police Week? Connect with us via Facebook or Twitter, where we are sharing our thanks with these heroes.

Honoring the 67 victims of the deadliest drunk driving crash in US history

On May 14, 1988, a school bus carrying 67 people, nearly all of them children, was returning to Radcliff, Ky. from a church youth group field trip to an amusement park. While they were driving through Carroll County, Ky., a drunk driver driving on the wrong side of the road crashed into the bus head-on, killing 24 children, the bus driver and two adult chaperones, and injuring 34 others.

As a part of the crash anniversary, MADD is partnering with the filmmakers behind a feature documentary film, IMPACT: AFTER THE CRASH, which tells some of the powerful stories of loss and healing through interviews with many of the crash survivors and victims’ family members. As part of our recognition of the victims - both those that died and the survivors - MADD is proud to offer an exclusive, one-day ONLY viewing of the movie. MADD viewers can watch the movie from 10 a.m. - when the bus roughly left the church, headed for the amusement park - until 10:55 p.m. - about the time of the crash. Enter promo code "MADD" to watch the film here. The documentary can be accessed through or Apple TV.

Additionally, we are dedicating our Twitter feed to the victims of the crash Saturday. Every 23 minutes, we will tweet out one victim name. We do this as a way of saying, "You are not forgotten."

We shared the film's trailer during the 25th anniversary ceremony. You can watch it here.  Click here to view our memorial to those killed in the crash.

Voices of Victims: Phaedra Marriott Olsen

On Mother's Day weekend, 1996, Phaedra, age 22, a preschool teacher who had also done some modeling on the side, was enjoying a concert with some friends not far from her hometown.  The two car loads of youth who were completely sober were driving home in Morgan County, Missouri, as a misty rain began to fall.  Unbeknownst to them, a drunk driver with a .08 BAC was heading their way as he crossed the center line of Highway 5.  Phaedra's friends in the car in front managed to see him in time to swerve.  The drunk driver clipped them and headed straight for Phaedra's car.  As he topped the hill around a curve, she had no warning and he hit her nearly head-on.

Phaedra's injuries were numerous and life-threatening.  At the hospital, doctors discovered that the impact of the crash had ripped her aortic valve from her heart.  Most people would have died within minutes, but Phaedra had not.  In an emergency surgery to repair it, surgeons struggled to stop the bleeding.  They quickly realized that she would bleed to death on the operating table if something wasn't done immediately.  So, to save her life, they cut off the blood flow to her lower extremities to slow the bleeding enough to make the repairs to her heart.

She spent 3 weeks in a coma and 5 1/2 weeks on life support before waking to learn that the decision to save her life had cost her the ability to walk.  In addition, she also had plates in her arm and both legs due to both ankles, a left femur, and a right forearm being broken.  Her pelvis had been broken on both sides as well as 4 ribs.  Both lungs had collapsed and her liver had been lacerated.  Her gallbladder, appendix, and spleen were damaged and all had to be removed. 

Phaedra's son was 4 years old at the time of the crash.  She missed his first day of kindergarten because she was still in the hospital.  As he grew up, someone else taught him to ride a bike, played in the ocean waves with him, and rode roller coasters with him while she sat on the sidelines and cheered, quietly wishing she could be the one beside him.

In 2000, Phaedra began working for MADD Missouri.  She became a Victim Specialist helping other victims by providing emotional support and guidance through court proceedings.  In 2010, she was crowned Ms. Wheelchair USA, again bringing awareness to the dangers of drunk driving by choosing it as her official platform.  In 2012, she moved to Tennessee as the Underage Drinking Specialist for the MADD Tennessee state office.  She built the program up from a presence that was non-existent to the top program in the country, talking to thousands of teens annually about the dangers of underage drinking and sharing her story with kids, parents, and DUI offenders.

Phaedra's original scars may have healed, but the impact of a DUI crash lasts for a lifetime.  With no spleen, Phaedra is more susceptible to illness and her immune system is unable to fight simple infections.  An ear infection can end up in a hospital stay.  Independent and resolute, Phaedra drives, works full time, and is now the mother to an 8 year old daughter, as well as her grown son and step-daughter.  People are amazed at how she lifts her wheelchair overhead, in and out of her car, and is not deterred from anything she sets her mind to doing.  However, her determination takes its toll on her body.  She recently had to have surgery on her arm because a problem with one of the plates had caused a fracture in her arm.  Because she is constantly lifting her chair and transferring herself in and out of it, the injury to her arm caused a significant hardship on her ability to proceed with life as normal.  And because of her immunity problem, the healing process was also complicated.

But those who know Phaedra, know that despite the lifelong affect drunk driving has had on her life, the thing that stands out most about her is her positive attitude.  She never waivers.  For years, she has fought to serve others who have been impacted by the crimes of drunk and drugged driving and underage drinking and to spread awareness about their dangers by sharing her story.  She is an inspiration to all!  And she will continue to fight until MADD fulfills it's vision of No More Victims!

Mother's Day: 9 Ways to Get Through the Day

By Dr. Gloria Horsley, an internationally known grief expert and author. Gloria is the founder of the Open to Hope foundation.

Mother’s Day is a great time to honor our own mothers, as well as ourselves as mothers. However, for those who have suffered a loss this day can be bitter sweet.

The death of a mother can make one feel a sense of abandonment, while a bereaved parent may feel a sense of failure because they were not able to protect their children. As a society, we have always put heavy expectations on mothers. One of my favorite writers was the late Erma Bombeck, whose brand humor was spot on regarding motherhood. Below is a quote from her book, When God Created Mothers.

“And God said, Have you read the specs on this order? She has to be completely washable, but not plastic. Have 180 moveable parts...all replaceable. Run on black coffee and leftovers. Have a lap that disappears when she stands up. A kiss that can cure anything from a broken leg to a disappointed love affair. And six pairs of hands."

If you identify with these overwhelming expectations and Mother’s Day is a down-day for you, a day that brings sadness rather than joy or hope, I suggest you follow the advice of my friend Byron Katie, creator of The Work, and take the opportunity this Mother’s Day to “Mother Yourself.” 

Start the day by looking in the mirror and saying, “I am a special person, one of a kind, and today is my day.”  Then, do something that brings you joy or just helps you get through the day.

Below are a few things to get you started.

1.    Have a bubble bath – I like the balls that fizz in the hot water.
2.    Read a good book or magazine – I like to curl up with Vanity Fair.
3.    Listen to some music that is uplifting – Elvis makes me smile.
4.    Cut yourself some slack- Remind yourself that you did the best you could at the time.
5.    Don’t buy into the idea that there is or ever was a “perfect mother.”
6.    Let others serve you on this day – No cooking for yourself.
7.    Get some light exercise – Go for a walk or take a restorative yoga class.
8.    Spend time in nature or attending church services.
9.    Do accept the appreciation of family members especially your children.

Remember that Mother’s Day is only one day. Be prepared that the days leading up to any anniversary or holiday can be more stressful than the actual day. Let others know if it is a dreaded day for you so they can help out.

God Bless,
Dr. Gloria
Open to Hope

Destinations Reached Calendar Contest Showcases Diversity

Wow! MADD supporters make for great photographers!

The early submissions to our Destinations Reached 2017 Calendar Contest highlight beaches, deserts, puppies, and more! Voting is now open, and we can't wait to see how next year's calendar is coming together.

At MADD, we often face the tragic and senseless in our efforts to support victims and end drunk driving. This is our mission, and we are committed to success. However, sometimes you need to focus on the positive. So, the calendar contest is one way to focus on the trips, vacations, and staycations were everyone arrived alive and happy. We use the calendars throughout the year to support our Campaign to Elliminate Drunk Driving®.

Before you check out these incredible submissions, don't forget to submit your own! Then, ask your friends and family to vote for your picture. The top 12 will be selected for the 2017 MADD calendar.

Our very first submission was a bird's eye view.
 Not sure where this was taken, but that's where our next vacation needs to take place! Beautiful!

A nighttime view makes every city look peaceful.

This pictures just says it all about the vacation - driving down a desert highway on a powerful machine!

Any city with architecture/art like this joins the list of must-see locations.
Who can relax and enjoy time off better than dogs? Well, cats, of course, but these two are adorable.
Not sure this counts as relaxing or vacation, but it's an amazing image.

Why We Walk: Tyler Biggins

On March 17, 2012, an impaired driver recklessly driving 70 mph crashed into a car at a stop light, claiming the life of Tracey’s 10-year-old son, Tyler Biggins, and his best friend, Vincent, and Vincent’s parents.

Like so many others, Tyler’s life ended too soon. Tyler enjoyed all sports, he was very well known in the community, and he touched a lot of lives at the age of ten.

Tracey Biggins, team captain of Tyler's Allstar Team, is continuing the push to keep her son's memory alive through awareness and participating in the Tallahassee Walk Like MADD.

Tyler’s Allstar Team walked in the Tallahassee Walk Like MADD event on Saturday, April 16 for the second year in a row with 41 team members, who helped raise more than $3,035 that will stay local to provide programs and services to victims at no cost.

Drunk driving threatens all of us. More than 10,000 people die and 300,000 people are injured each year in drunk driving crashes.

Help us create a world where ‪#‎DrunkDrivingEndsHere‬ and there are ‪#‎NoMoreVictims‬. Walk with us by finding an event near you at ‬‬

MADD Attorney attends SCOTUS hearing, shares first-person account and predictions

by Adam Vanek, MADD General Counsel

Last week, I had the honor and privilege to represent MADD in Washington, D.C. attending oral arguments before the United States Supreme Court in Birchfield v. North Dakota, et. al. MADD filed an Amicus Curiae Brief, or Friend of the Court, in this matter supporting law enforcement and the States’ fight against drunk driving.

In front of a packed courtroom, the Justices addressed whether States, without a warrant, may impose minor criminal sanctions — usually misdemeanors — against a suspected drunk driver who withdraws his or her implied consent and refuses to submit to a blood alcohol concentration test after arrest. North Dakota, Minnesota and at least 10 other states make it a criminal offense for a driver who has been arrested on probable cause for driving while impaired to refuse a BAC or chemical test.

The genesis of these criminal penalties, arises out of pure frustration by legislators and law enforcement that administrative sanctions, such as license revocation, no longer serve as a deterrent because offenders will continue to drive.

The Supreme Court considered three cases: Birchfield v. North Dakota, Bernard v. Minnesota, and Beylund v. North Dakota, in which the offenders argue that imposing minor criminal penalties for withdrawing their implied consent — refusing a warrantless BAC test after arrest — violates their Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable search and seizure. Make no mistake, the evidences shows that all three offenders were drunk and behind the wheel. No one denies that much.

The offenders’ argument is two-fold: (1) a BAC test is a search that intrudes one’s bodily integrity, and therefore unreasonable; and (2) the threat of minor criminal sanctions is a punitive form of coercion that disqualifies an offender’s consent. In fact, the offenders argue that all BAC tests require a warrant regardless of circumstance.

Most Supreme Court journalists agree that counsel for both sides of the argument — the offenders and conversely, counsel for North Dakota and Minnesota — struggled to articulate their arguments. In all fairness, unless you're the Deputy Solicitor General, this was probably the first time counsel for both sides argued in the hallowed halls of justice — the Holiest of Holies for lawyers — in front of living legends such as Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sam Alito, Stephen Breyer and Clarence Thomas. It was truly an awe inspiring experience.

Since I was a mere observer sitting “bench” and just like any football fan on Monday, I am playing a little arm chair quarterback regarding some “plays” that were not called on fourth and one.

1. The Fourth Amendment protects a citizen from unreasonable search and seizure, not from every search.

In all three cases, the offenders were arrested for suspicion of drunk driving. The arresting officers performed field sobriety tests on the offenders, observed the smell of alcohol, bloodshot eyes, inability to walk a straight lines and in some cases failed the field breath test. The officers had more than probable cause to conduct a search and request a BAC test. The Justices asked why North Dakota or Minnesota could not obtain an “insta-warrant” over the telephone, similar to Wyoming which can obtain a warrant within five minutes.

Practically speaking, at what point does an “insta-warrant” just become a perfunctory exercise? If an officer can call a magistrate and get a warrant in less than five minutes, then obviously the magistrate has full faith and credit that the officer had probable cause and is merely making sure that the i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed. The idea that the magistrate serves a neutral body, especially when a warrant can be obtained over the telephone in less than five minutes, is an antiquated model that does not practically translate in today's on-demand world. In other words, the “insta-warrant” has merely become a superficial hoop that law enforcement is obliged to jump through for show.

2. The State’s compelling interest to protect the safety of its citizens far outweighs any minimal right to privacy of the offender.

Fortunately, the Supreme Court acknowledged that drunk driving is a serious public safety threat. Challenge after challenge, the Supreme Court reminds the public, “The increasing slaughter on our highways [caused by drunk driving], most of which should be avoidable, now reaches the astounding figures only heard of on the battlefield.” Counsel for the offenders did not dispute the tragedy of drunk driving fatalities, but argued that individual privacy was more important than saving lives.

Justice Kennedy responded, “Innocent lives are at stake, why can't we just say that this falls within the special-needs exception.” It should be undisputed that States and the Federal government have a moral obligation to stop the “slaughter on our highways,” and that this serves as a special needs exception to the general warrant requirement. Justice Alito broke it down to brass tax by stating the minor privacy inconvenience is not what’s being disputed but rather, “The real gripe with the test is that they just don't want their blood-alcohol levels tested.”

3. In the history of jurisprudence, the Supreme Court has never drawn an absolute line in the sand regarding the Fourth Amendment and should not do so now.
MADD argues in its Amicus that the Supreme Court has never required a per se ban on all criminal penalties when it comes to the Fourth Amendment. In fact the Supreme Court has uniformly rejected such categorical rules in favor of a case-by-case analysis based on the totality of the circumstances. And although neither the offenders’ nor the States’ briefs address the distinction between a breath test and a blood draw, the Justices spent a considerable amount of time asking counsel on both sides about the practical difference.

Justice Breyer asked, “And I don’t find this very much in the briefs, and it surprises me… Why isn’t there a big difference between a blood test and a Breathalyzer?”

Justice Kagan added, “This [breath test] is about as uninvasive as a search can possibly be.” While this may seem a promising line of questioning regarding breath tests, the opposite holds true for a blood draw. Justice Kagan continued, “There’s something very different in the level of invasion [between a breath test and a blood draw], and certainly it’s appropriate to look at the invasiveness of a search when deciding whether to do a search incident to arrest.” Unfortunately, counsel for both States’ response to such distinction fell short.

The Deputy Solicitor General tried to save this argument by emphasizing the importance of a blood draw when it comes to drugged driving, but was cut off by Justice Breyer saying that a warrant could be obtained in the time it takes to transfer the offender to the hospital for testing.

The decision?

While I am not Carnac the Magnificent, I predict the Supreme Court will determine that a warrantless breath test survives constitutional muster as a search incident to arrest. However, and in light of the Missouri v. McNeely opinion two years ago and the statements made by the Justices, a warrantless blood draw may be another matter.

With the recent passing of Justice Scalia, a 4-4 decision would uphold the lower State Supreme Courts’ rulings and serve as a temporary victory. Therefore, MADD’s fight to eliminate drunk driving is far from over. We must continue to wage our Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving in the courts, in the Capitol buildings and in the hearts and minds of every American.

Join with MADD to say states SHOULD have the right to impose modest criminal penalties for refusing a BAC test.

PowerTalk 21 Round Up - Videos, photos and fun!

Today, we recognize PowerTalk 21®, a day dedicated to inspiring intentional, ongoing, and potentially lifesaving conversations between parents and kids about underage drinking and alcohol. And, boy, do we have plenty to talk about!

When it comes to PowerTalk 21®, the results are ones we can’t see. When parents take the time to show and tell their kids about underage drinking, it prevents the number of underage drinking deaths from climbing higher. And one more death is one too many! That point was visually driven home at the national PowerTalk 21® press conference in Dallas.

National President Colleen Sheehey-Church opened up the conference, sharing how the loss of her son drives her to help other parents avoid her grief.

MADD volunteer Steve Mason touched on the importance of talking with your kids about not riding with a drinking driver when he shared the loss of his 20-year-old son, Chris.

Dr. Robert Turrisi, a groundbreaking researcher into teens and drinking, shared his data detailing how parents can effectively combat the pressures teens face to drink with a simple game of SHOW & TELL during an online virtual Town Hall yesterday and at the press conference. If you missed the virtual Town Hall yesterday, listen to it now. Or watch a brief video where he throws down a challenge - put the lifesaving information available in our Power of Parents handbooks into the hands of 10 million parents.

Here are pictures from the Dallas event, as well as other PowerTalk 21® events across the country.



 MADD CEO Debbie Weir and National President Colleen Sheehey-Church at the national PowerTalk 21® press conference in Dallas.  The set-up for the press conference included pictures of two young men killed by drinking drivers, as well as 101 chairs and graduation caps representing the 101 young people in Texas killed in alcohol-related crashes.
 The media gearing up for the press conference, one of several held across the country for PowerTalk 21® Day.  Street teams took the PowerTalk 21® literally on their backs to share it with Dallas parents visting Klyde Warren Park.
 Another street team member shares lifesaving information with a Dallas resident. Dallas Assistant Chief Gary Tittle and other officers met MADD CEO Debbie Weir and National President Colleen Sheehey-Church. Chief Tittle stressed the department's no tolerance policy for udnerage drinking and adults who provide underage drinkers with alcohol.
Former MADD Chairman and Nationwide Insurance Associate Vice President of Consumer Safety Bill Windsor spoke at the Dallas event. PowerTalk 21 is part of the Power of Parents program, sponsored by Nationwide. Chairs and graduation caps representing the 101 Texas young people killed in alcohol-related crashses last year.


 In Arizona, 35 Dunkin Donuts locations shared yummy breakfast treats and lifesaving information.  Check out these delicious MADD cupcakes, part of the Arizona celebration.
 Juno Beach is celebrating PowerTalk 21! The Town Council (Left to Right: Mayor Jason Haselkorn, Council Member Bill Greene, Council Member Ellen Andel, Madd SE FL Program Specialist David Ganim, Vice Mayor Jim Lyons andTown Manager Joe LoBello) recognized PowerTalk 21 with an official proclamation.  Windsor Locks Connecticut, a community that six years ago lost a resident who was a passenger in a single car crash with a drinking driver, declared April 21st officially PowerTalk 21® Day.
 In Florida, MADD joined the LIVE radio podcast Sober Smash, taking calls from people in Wisconsin to Miami.  

PowerTalk 21® may end today, but the conversations between parents and kids must remain ongoing. Learn valuable strategies and tips to create conversations kids will actually hear by downloading the new parents pocket guide today.

When you do, you will automatically be entered to win an Amazon echo, Kindle Fire HD, or one of two $50 gift cards for a date night. You can earn additional entries by taking one of our new interactive quizzes, too!

The winners will be announced via email and social media after April 30th.

Voices of Victims: Cole Kilgore

By Kathy Kilgore Beeler

When one of my family members calls someone a “Cole,” it means something special.

It’s family shorthand for calling someone Compassionate, Obedient to God, Loving and Enthusiastic toward life – all such core personality traits of my handsome son Cole, who was killed while riding with a drinking driver.

Cole Hansen Kilgore was my little stinker, my only child. He was charismatic, fun-loving and always kept me on my toes. He had a sense of humor that charmed everyone around him. He was a city boy who lived in the country, so he knew how to both skateboard and skeet shoot. He was compassionate, and always tried to take care of me, even when it wasn’t his responsibility. Most importantly, he was the only person who called me “Momma.”

People gravitated towards Cole. He simply pulled people into his stratosphere, and you felt lucky to be there with him.

Cole wasn’t a perfect child. He was perfect to me, but Cole had his struggles with underage drinking and drugs. When I found out, I talked to him and moved him to a new city to be around new friends; we worked together to turn his life around. I remember speaking with him about the dangers of alcohol when he was 12 or 13 years old. I wish I had spoken to him sooner, but I never imagined alcohol would be on his radar at such an early age.

When Cole turned 19, I could tell that he was really trying to turn his life around. He was looking to start college classes and worked with a construction company in the summer.  He never wanted me to worry; he repeatedly told me, “Momma, everything is okay. I’m okay.”

On June 4, 2011, Cole was still living at home, and he shouted out that he was going down the road to visit his friend and would be right back. I told him I loved him, and he yelled it back before driving two miles down the road. Just two miles…

Cole went down to a friend’s house where a group of older guys were sitting outside drinking. Even though Cole was sober, he made the choice to get into a truck with a man who had been drinking. Intoxicated, the driver recklessly drove more than 100 miles per hour before careening into a guardrail, hitting the gas tank on the driver’s side. The truck went up in flames, engulfing the driver and Cole. The driver died at the scene, but my Cole managed to pull himself out of the vehicle.

When I arrived at the hospital I saw my handsome boy with burns covering 95 percent of his body. Cole looked at me and said, “I’m sorry; it was stupid.” He knew that he had broken my heart. “Momma, I’m a burnt chicken,” he joked in typical Cole fashion, trying to make me laugh. His nickname in high school was ‘Chicken Legs.’ My sweet boy was in pain, and was put in a medically induced coma. After being life-flighted to a larger hospital, I said I love you to Cole for the last time.

In my mind, I kept thinking the doctors would save him, that somehow this great miracle would occur, and I could just switch places with him.

But my baby boy with the bluest eyes imaginable took his last breath. We stood by his side, still praying for that miracle that never arrived.

Before Cole passed away, I never thought about joining a group like MADD. That’s exactly what MADD is – a family you never knew you needed – until you suddenly need them desperately.

Today, I try to share my story to prevent this from happening to others.

This April, I’m partnering with MADD in honor of Cole. April 21st is MADD’s PowerTalk 21 Day, the national day for parents to begin ongoing conversations with their children about the dangers of alcohol, and the dangers of riding with a drinking driver. Parents, please use MADD’s Power of Parents tools and have these lifesaving conversations with your children. Download the free materials at

Voices of Victims: Hannah Rebekah Morales

When Hannah Rebekah Morales entered a room, it lit up, not only from her smile and personality, but from her willingness to help and inspire others.  She was loved by her parents, family, teammates, friends, coaches, and really anyone she came into contact with. Hannah had a passion for sports ever since her mother could remember. Hannah’s connection to sports allowed her to travel and compete against teams across the country. Her parents found joy in watching their daughter play sports, and spent many hours traveling and cheering her on.

On December 31, 2015, Hannah went to a New Year’s Eve party with a group of friends. There was underage drinking at the party and even though people knew the driver had been drinking, they didn’t stop him from driving. At just 16 years old, Hannah was killed after being ejected from a vehicle driven by a driver with a BAC of .208, more than twice the legal limit. The driver survived the crash. He pled guilty to criminally negligent homicide, and was sentenced to 5 years of probation. Hannah’s parents were devastated by the courts decision, they believe that probation shouldn’t be an option when someone kills someone else in a drunk driving crash.  They continue to remain positive in honor of Hannah but would also like to see laws change to reflect the seriousness of the crime.

Hannah had never been in trouble in the past, her parents hadn’t had a reason to worry about what she was doing that night. Anita, Hannah’s mother, wishes she would have spoken to her daughter more about underage drinking, and encourages all parents to talk to their adolescents about the possible consequences. She believes drunk driving is a selfish act that is completely preventable. She hopes that Hannah’s story will prevent others from making the same mistakes and save lives.

This week, MADD shares PowerTalk 21, a day dedicated to creating intention, ongoing, and potentially lifesaving conversations between parents and kids about alochol. Join us to learn valuable strategies for how to talk with your child or teen about not drinking and not riding with a drinking driver.

LIVE with CEO Debbie Weir for PowerTalk 21

MADD CEO and parent of two Debbie Weir takes the PowerTalk 21® drinking myths quiz and shares key insights into some dangerous ideas about alcohol and kids. Take the quiz with us to be automatically entered to win an Amazon Echo, Kindle Fire HD, or one of two gift cards for a date night!

If you missed it, last week we learned more about parenting styles and how they influence a child's attitudes toward alcohol. Watch it now!

Maryland Joins with MADD by Becoming 26th State with Ignition Interlocks

The Maryland all-offender ignition interlock bill, dubbed Noah’s Law after Officer Noah Leotta, who was killed in December by a suspected repeat drunk driver, unanimously passed both Houses late Monday night, mere moments before the session ended for the year.

This historic piece of legislation, ignored and delayed for years, now heads to the Governor for his signature, which will make Maryland the 26th state in the country to require ignition interlocks for all drunk driving offenders.

Noah Leotta’s parents dove into advocacy efforts, determined to prevent other parents from suffering from this 100% preventable crime. We thank them for their hard work.

We also recognize our tremendous partners in law enforcement, who stand in front of the danger to protect the rest of us, the Maryland legislators, who unanimously passed this lifesaving bill, and you! Your support of ignition interlocks, your letters and emails, your tweets and posts, your donations and volunteer hours – your actions made a real and recognizable difference. 

Today, we are safer thanks to you.

Now, after a long-fought battle, it’s not time to stand down. It’s time to step up.

Twenty-four states remain without this critical protection against repeat offenders. That’s where we move our attention, because our mission doesn’t end until drunk driving ends.

Our work continues this year in California, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, and Vermont, where lawmakers can send a strong message that they, too, want to protect their constituents from this horrific and violent crime. If you reside in one of these states, please consider sending a letter to your legislators here.

Join MADD and all people who believe in a future of No More Victims® today. Donate $50 in support of ignition interlocks in all 50 states. If you haven't read our first-of-its-kind, state-by-state Ignition Interlock Report, discover how this technology has already prevented more than 1.77 million drunk driving attempts.

Connect with MADD on Facebook to view more pictures from our efforts to get the Maryland bill enacted.

Road to Hope Paved With Love

At MADD, part of our mission is to support and assist those tragically impacted by drunk or drugged driving. Immediately after a crash, victims can feel lost and overwhelmed by grief or injury. We work to help them along their own healing journey. This year, as part of Crime Victims' Rights Week, we have created a virtual Road to Hope.

Road to Hope

The Road to Hope is built one virtual brick at a time. If you have someone to honor, simply fill out a brief form. Be sure to share your name (if you were injured) or the name of your loved one, along with a piece of advice or comfort you recieved that helped you move forward. Your words may help someone who is just a few steps behind you in their healing journey.

We kicked off the campaign Monday, and, already, some truly touching tributes have been shared. Diane Pinkerton's family shared how her family supported her after a crash.

A sentiment others shared, as well...

Other people used their brick almost like a note to a lost loved one, catching them up on how the family continues, depsite the tragic loss.

Shane's family is moving forward by helping others arrive home safely so fewer people suffer the same loss.

And Ashley's family now acts as her voice to tell her story.

While other bricks simply share love.

Keri Anne's family set a lofty goal, one they are working to achieve through social media, legislative advocacy, and participation in a Walk Like MADD event.

Many offered hope...hope for tomorrow...hope for healing...hope for a future with No More Victims®.

Please add your brick to the Road of Hope. The Road to Hope seems long and winding at times, but you are not alone. Join MADD and others in this healing journey, especially as we honor National Crime Victims' Rights Week.

Affluenza Teen receives 720 days after 1st adult court hearing

A Tarrant County adult court Judge – for now – gave Ethan Couch the present he deserves for his 19th birthday – the maximum amount of jail time. However, the defense team will have an opportunity in two weeks to plead their case for less or no jail time.

A Judge ordered four separate and consecutive 180 day terms, one for each count that he was convicted of which corresponds to each life lost. This is a small victory – but 720 days in jail is nothing compared to the life sentence the families he impacted face.

North Texas Executive Director Jason Derscheid spoke immediately after the hearing.

However, we’ll never say we ‘won’ this case, because no one ‘wins’ in drunk driving cases. Everybody has already lost. The victims and their families lost the day of the crash three years ago. 

Here is Tarrant County Sheriff Dee Anderson speaking about Ethan's disposition in jail, where he is in solitary confinement 23 hours a day.

But the fight is not over. Couch’s defense team will be afforded the opportunity to come back in two weeks to argue against this sentence. Know that we will be there once again, to ensure that everything is being done to ensure justice for these families and for all families who have suffered to this 100% preventable crime.

We want to end by honoring the families who are hurting today by giving them hope and letting them know, you always have a place at MADD.

When Grief Leads to Advocacy

When a loved one dies or someone is injured in a crash, victims and survivors often find themselves in a complex web of emotions and reactions as they learn to live with their loss.

As they experience grief due to a crash, that grief can be overwhelming and all encompassing. Over time though, people can learn to live with their grief and sometimes grow in ways they never expected or wanted.In our own human journey, we try to find our niche or purpose in life, but sometimes it finds us instead. Crime victims discover things that they were not aware of prior to their victimization and somewhere down that road they may want to take what they have learned and put it to use to help others.

Many victims and survivors want to make sure that what happened to them doesn’t happen to anyone else, or that something good comes from what happened to them – this is where a desire to advocate often comes from. Advocacy is speaking out for or about something and can take many forms.  Some victims and survivors advocate by participating in Walk Like MADD events, others work with victims and survivors to offer comfort or support, some take on legislative advocacy to try to change laws, and still others speak about their experience as a victim or survivor of a drunk or drugged driving crash.

If you or a loved one have been impacted by a crash and want to advocate, there are many opportunities to make a difference.  To get started, you can read about ways to get involved or reach out to your local MADD office.

Thank you for being a part of the solution and for making the world a better place. Please join us this week in building a Road To Hope in honor of Crime Victims' Rights Week. Simply customize a virtual brick by sharing a piece of advice, a kind gestures, or support you received that helped you take a step forward. In this small way, we honor our lost loved ones and the strength it takes for all crime victims to continue their healing journey.