Today, MADD hosted its PowerTalk 21® press conference in Washington, DC with the National Alcohol and Beverage Control Association and Nationwide to release new parent survey data, which shows that parents are concerned about teen drinking during special occasions such as prom. Teen drunk and drugged driving victim, Kashira Brooks and her son spoke. Leading underage drinking researcher Dr. Robert Turrisi from Penn State also presented.
(Press Conference begins at 15:00)
Read the press release MADD distributed after the press conference with more in-depth information.
Leroy, who lives in Arizona, is the brother of a MADD Bay Area San Francisco volunteer. Leroy recently fell and broke his hip and is currently in rehab. He’s a long-time supporter of MADD Bay Area Walks, and he treasurers wearing his many Walk T-shirts.
Leroy was wearing one of his MADD T-shirts yesterday when a wheelchair-bound patient at the rehab facility asked him about the shirt. This disabled fellow has been living in this rehab facility for the past 9 years after being struck by a drunk driver. Leroy offered him his MADD T-shirt, literally “giving him the shirt off his back”.
Though we can see that the fellow struggles, we were moved by his “thumb’s up” attitude as he proudly donned his new shirt. He has difficulty speaking, but was able to say “Good Deal!” as he was putting his thumb up.
We just never know how many people we’re reaching… even thousands of miles away.
When Cathy Dewitt, Cody’s mom, visualized her oldest son’s high school graduation she dreamed a time of joy, celebration, and planning ahead for the next stage of his life. Cathy was excited about the numerous possibilities for Cody; she never imagined that she would sit next to an empty chair covered with flowers and an unworn cap and gown.
Cody was a few months shy of graduation, and beginning the next chapter of his life. He had done the hard work—completed homework, paid attention in class, participated in projects and earned his degree. Yet due to someone’s choice to drink and drive, Cody did not live to see the fulfillment of all of his hard work and plans.
On December 24, 2011, Cody hugged his mother goodbye. He went to a friend’s house to enjoy the last of his winter break. Cody and his friends hung out in the friend’s garage and drank alcohol until 1:15 AM, when they were asked to leave. Cody was riding in a passenger seat when the driver lost control of the car and hit a tree. Less than a mile away from home, the impact of the crash killed Cody instantly.
Cathy describes the next year of her life as a blur. She shares few memories of the day that she learned her son was killed. She remembers Cody’s friends at her door telling her that he had been in a crash. She remembers arriving at the scene of a blocked off road and seeing the word “coroner” on the side of the vehicle. She remembers feelings of shock and haze, being physically present but mentally and emotionally absent. That shock stayed with her for an entire year, “I don’t remember the first year after the crash, by the second year I started to realize that the crash did happen, and by the third year I started to grieve”.
Cody was a country boy at heart. He loved cutting wood, hunting, camping, fishing and being outdoors. “He was so active and always had to be doing something. As soon as he turned 16 he got a job to help me out.” Cathy, Cody, and Ben (Cathy’s youngest son) were a team. Together they were one. They did everything with each other and for each other. Cathy recalls a conversation with Cody days before the crash, “he told me that he wanted to have fun for a little bit before he had to grow up.”
A night of fun and someone’s choice to drink and drive changed many lives forever. Cody died, the driver was sentenced to six years in prison, Ben lost his best friend and big brother, Cody’s girlfriend lost her first love, and Cathy struggles to live the rest of her life without her son.
Their stories are examples of the devastating consequences of drinking and driving. Cathy believes that this is a community problem for which we are all responsible to prevent. “It affects more people than you’ll ever know, EMT, hospital staff, bystanders, neighbors, friends, everyone”. Cathy wants young people to think of how many lives they touch every day. She shares her story in hopes that she can prevent others from experiencing the grief that she lives with daily. Cathy now volunteers as a speaker at Victim Impact Panels and is committed to help MADD fight for its mission of No More Victims®. Drinking and driving is a 100 percent preventable crime, but even one life lost due to underage drinking is unacceptable. There needs to be zero tolerance for underage drinking considering two out of three underage drinking deaths do not even involve a motor vehicle.
MADD encourages parents talk to their children about the dangers of underage drinking. Kids who start drinking young are seven times more likely to be in an alcohol-related crash. MADD believes by taking proactive steps to protect our loved ones, especially our children, we can achieve a future of No More Victims®.
MADD honors David Weinstein and recognizes his loved ones who began our St. Louis Walk Like MADD. His story will live on. Watch the video:
Thank you to everyone who gave in support of securing the lifesaving power of in-care breathalyzers across the country.
In-car breathalyzers, or ignition interlocks, prevented 955 drunk driving attempts every TEN minutes in the last year – and, thanks to you, they will continue to make our roads and highways safer.
Thanks to generous donors, we have the ability and opportunity to press hard in the 22 remaining states without this lifesaving protection.
You are making headlines like this...
and especially this...
For 2017, we’ve hit the ground running. We’ve been working hard in Florida to pass an all-offender ignition interlock law. We are working in Massachusetts and Wisconsin, too.
Today, we have this protection in 28 states and the District of Columbia. I personally thank you for this compassionate, lifesaving gift, and I pledge to maximize the good it can do so that others don't experience the devastation caused by this 100% preventable crime.
Once more, thank you to everyone who joined in supporting our efforts.
For the past seventeen of twenty-five years in law enforcement, I have worked for the Irving Police Department in Irving, Texas. Irving is located in Dallas County which is one of the highest counties in the State of Texas for DWI related crashes and arrests, second only to Harris County (Houston).
The first two years of my career in Irving, I was assigned to the patrol division and for the last fifteen years I have been assigned to the nighttime DWI Unit as one of five DWI enforcement officers or traffic homicide investigators. My primary function is to investigate any drug or alcohol related intoxication assault or manslaughter cases.
When I’m not working on those types of cases, I roam the nearly 80 miles of highway Irving has looking for impaired drivers in an effort to reduce or eliminate these types of crashes. It’s a job that I take very seriously and one that I can say truly makes a difference every day our team of dedicated professionals come to work!
As DWI officers, I truly believe that we have the most important job within the police department. I know many other officers will say this about their specific fields of expertise as well, but let me explain why DWI enforcement is so important. Stopping impaired drivers is the only job that you really do make a lifesaving difference every day you come to work.
When you think about it, intoxicated driving is the only offense across this great nation that can go from a low level misdemeanor to a high level felony in literally the blink of an eye.
Unfortunately when it does, that means someone is seriously injured or has lost their life as a result of an intoxicated driver.
Officers who are assigned to DWI Units around the nation have a commitment in their field that is second to none within law enforcement. Any officer who gets transferred to our DWI Unit recognizes that this position is not based on seniority, great working hours or days off, and that they can expect that they will be working every major holiday or event due to high alcohol consumption.
An officer knows going into this field that there is a lot of specialized training to be an effective officer. Our Unit sends officers to Standardized Field Sobriety Instructor School (SFST), Drug Recognition Expert (DRE), Commercial Vehicle Enforcement (CVE), and Crash Reconstruction School to give the officers the knowledge they need to more effective on the road. This is true dedication to your profession.
With all the training that comes with the job, we constantly have to go through re-certification classes to keep up with the changing trends. Case law for our specific field is ever changing and evolving and new and improved enforcement techniques are constantly being sought after.
Being a DWI enforcement officer means many hours away from our families during the holidays. When other people get additional time off from work to celebrate, DWI officers get additional days to work to help keep our roadways safe from intoxicated drivers. Unfortunately, we are far outnumbered by intoxicated drivers, but we give it our all in an effort to make sure everyone has the opportunity to get home safely.
Have you heard about an "in-car breathalyzer" that drunk driving offenders install in their vehicles that prevents drunk driving? Not some of the time – all of the time. Every time. The vehicle doesn’t move a single inch.
Ignition interlocks, as they are called, have prevented more than 1.77 million drunk driving attempts and are more effective than license suspensions. What we cannot know for sure is how many lives these devices have saved. But if the number is more than one – and we know it is – then MADD is grateful.
Will you join with us today by giving $5? We are asking 5,000 people who believe in a future of No More Victims® to step up to make it happen.
It is heartbreaking to hear stories of people who would have been spared the devastation of a crash or the loss of a loved one if the protection of ignition interlocks had just been in place sooner. Ignition interlocks grant us the ability to limit the destruction.
Last year, we achieved amazing success. Vermont passed an ignition interlock law. So did Maryland and the District of Columbia – all in one year. Today, 28 states and the District of Columbia offer the protection of interlocks for all offenders.
But that still leaves 22 states - and all the innocent people who live there - without protection from repeat offenses.
The finish line is closer than ever before. Help us cross it?
Last weekend, like every weekend, drunk driving crashed into people’s lives.
This time, it was at a Mardi Gras parade. An alleged drunk driver with a blood alcohol level of .232 two hours after he was taken into custody plowed his truck into the crowd, injuring 28 innocent bystanders. Those who were there, but managed to escape unscathed, breathed a little easier and hugged their children a little tighter.
These horrific and completely preventable tragedies will continue to happen until the nation decides that enough is enough. Until we realize that it’s not enough to simply survive on our roadways – we must actively work to make them safer.
What can you do to make our roads safer:
- Organize. Join with MADD to speak up for those who have had their voices stolen by this preventable crime. Stand up for those who’ve lost the ability to stand for themselves.
- Volunteer. It takes an army of people to do the lifesaving work that we do every day. Becoming a MADD volunteer means taking active steps to stop this scourge in your community by work with local law enforcement and educating teens.
- Lobby. Let your legislators know you want effective and strong laws. Tell judges that those convicted of these crimes deserve more than a slap on the wrist.
- Donate. Make a tax-deductible gift to help victims, educate the next generation and honor the work done on the front lines by law enforcement.
If you are a victim of the alleged drunk driving crash in New Orleans, please call Program Manager Valerie Cox at 225.926.0807 or call our national, 24/7 Victim Help Line at 877.MADD.HELP. We offer victim services and support at no charge.
We must share a special "thank you" from the bottom of our hearts with everyone who took part in our February campaign focusing on children endangered by drunk driving. We shared that nearly half the children killed in crashes are riding with offenders, and, wow, did MADD supporters stand up to make a difference.
Thank you so much for giving a teddy bear hug to a child endangered by drunk driving. Your generosity means a child — potentially one riding with the offender — receives a little fuzzy, cuddly teddy bear to hug for comfort in a very scary and very adult situation.
We informed our law enforcement heroes across the country that we have nearly 250 bears to give to them for FREE, and the requests are pouring in! Police departments in Texas, Alabama, Florida and more have already said they want bears. We will begin sending out the teddy bears shortly, and we won't stop until every single bear is tucked away in a police vehicle for the next child in need. We will be sure to share pictures and vidoes of the officers with the bears with you!
But we have even more to thank you for achieving! Nearly 2,000 of you took the time to tell your legislators that we, as voters, demand stronger child endangerment laws.
Sadly, we know these laws are necessary. During the campaign, we tragically shared several news stories involving children who were riding with the alleged drunk driver.
A teddy bear may not seem like much to us, but, to a child after a crash or arrest, we know it will make the world a little less scary.
Arizonans throughout the state rushed over to Dunkin Donuts on Feb. 28, 2017 to buy a MADD Donut, and support the efforts of the organization in ending drunk driving. Thank you to Dunkin Donuts, and our supporters who picked up these delicious treats at their local Dunkin Donuts store.
The success , despite bad weather, shows Arizona’s continued commitment to helping those in need. MADD CEO Debbie Weir personally witnessed and was very pleased with the community spirit shown by everyone who supported MADD by buying a MADD donut.
MADD and Dunkin Donuts’ combined success showcased not only their efforts to end drunk driving, but it also served as a reminder of the community support that MADD has around the country.
Through events like this, we can spread awareness about the deadly consequences of the violent and 100 percent preventable crime of drunk driving, raise funds to continue MADD’s 24-hour efforts to end drunk driving and support victims of drunk driving crashes. It is because of community support that we can envision a near future of No More Victims®.
This is the first in a three-part series by Drunk Driving Victim Erin Rollins:
My entire body shook. My closest friends, family and I had waited for this day for months.
October 18, 2016 represented two years of waiting. Two years spent in-and-out of hospitals undergoing several surgeries, totaling six thus far, and hundreds of hours of physical and occupational therapy.
Everyone who had supported me hoped for a conviction and agreed the offender should go to jail. This agreement wasn’t due to unforgiveness; rather, the knowledge that forgiveness and justice are separate things.
I had forgiven her for the reckless decision that led to her driving at a BAC of twice the legal limit, traveling the wrong way on the expressway and hitting my car in a head-on collision. But I had trouble forgiving her complete lack of remorse for those two years.
I may not have physically died November 9, 2014, but I lost my life. The Erin I once knew no longer existed. My body was damaged, broken, ravaged, and sliced open several times. It left me with three long scars, one from right below my ribs to my groin area, one from the middle of my back to the tailbone and one stretching horizontally from my left rectus muscle to only a couple of inches away from the back scar.
I had lost so much—my car, job, independence and a possible love interest to name a few—with my body being the most devastating. But there was one thing that sustained me through it all: a prayer that I had prayed most of 2014.
I prayed for my best friend and father to return to Christ, to meet my husband and to make an impact with my life. After seven months, God answered.
On November 6, 2014, I took my little black-and-white Pomeranian for a walk, and asked God once again what it would take for the things I had prayed for to happen. This time, I heard God speak to me as if he was standing right next to me. He shared with me that something tragic needed to happen.
There I stood surprised, but without fear. So I made a request.
“OK, God, do whatever you need to do, just don’t take my life.”
On November 9, 2014, my life changed forever.
At approximately 1:29 am, the same drunk driver that I faced today struck me head-on.
I truly believe that had I not asked God to spare my life, I wouldn’t have made it.
On impact, my spine shattered. I sustained two burst fractures at L5 and S4, rendering me paralyzed—I couldn’t feel or move anything below the waist. I also suffered tremendous injury internally leading to holes in my bowels, colon and small intestine; a severed iliac artery, lacerated liver, fractured sternum, three broken ribs, and a concussion. My right foot broke in three different places, and the seatbelt tore my left rectus muscle in half.
The paramedics, state trooper and hospital staff told me repeatedly that I was lucky to be alive.
The surgeons explained that I needed two emergency surgeries and they needed to decide which to do first: repair the holes to my organs that would cause sepsis and kill me, or decompress my spine to prevent complete and permanent paralysis. Needless-to-say, they chose to repair my organs first.
The next day, the surgeons wanted to conduct an 8-12 hour spinal fusion. My family wasn’t comfortable with the pace they wanted to move because of how critical of a condition I was in. I was subsequently transferred to Northwestern Memorial Hospital two days later. There, they fused my spine, inserted two titanium rods and 10 screws, and removed as many shards of bone as possible that had taken residence in my spinal canal. The neurosurgeons said there was more damage than they anticipated, and they weren’t sure if I would ever walk again.
The third emergency surgery became necessary because the first one to repair holes in my intestines failed, and I became septic. The surgeons said had they not caught it in time, I would’ve died hours later.
I spent six more weeks in inpatient rehab learning to sit-up, catheterize myself, clean and change the colostomy that was formed during my sepsis surgery, and walk using a walker, while suspended in a harness that hung from the ceiling.
By discharge from rehab, I had survived the most difficult part of my life thus far, but I couldn’t have imagined the task of learning how to live once more with a completely different body and set of circumstances, as well as the emotional task of processing such profound trauma.
Additionally, for the first year and a half afterwards, I was too weak to attend court dates for the criminal case against the drunk driver who almost took my life. When it finally came time to read my victim impact statement in court almost two years post crash, I could never have anticipated what it would be like to face my offender, and the lesson I would learn on forgiveness that day.
Erin's story is also featured in Chicago Now.
You see, drunk driving crashes are some of the most traumatic events you can experience – and that’s as an adult. For children, it is even more overwhelming and traumatizing.
And, until we reach a future of No More Victims®, we are going to do something to change that.
When you give $35 to MADD, we will send a law enforcement officers teddy bears they can share with these innocent victims. Roughly half of the children killed in drunk driving crashes are riding with the offender. That's right. It's mom, dad or the adult responsible for the safety who is endangering them. Imagine feeling so alone and terrified - and what it would mean to receive a teddy bear in that moment.
That’s it. It’s that simple. Donate some teddy bear magic today.
We brought together volunteers and staff members from across the country for a multi-day Walk Like MADD training session.
Walk Like MADD is our signature fundraising event, and it takes place in more than 90 cities across the country. The walks and runs are a way of not only honoring and remembering those we've lost to drunk and drugged driving but, also, a way to celebrate their lives and inspire others to commit to ending drunk driving. Funds raised at Walk Like MADD events stay in the community, meaning participants are taking an active role in making THEIR streets safer.
Our largest training event yet, the training covered best practices, fundraising, a visit by Donor Drive and a celebration of what we are achieving with every step we talk to Walk Like MADD.
The first day kicked off with a mission moment from National Board Member Heather Geronemus. "Mission moments" are what we call the moments that help us understand the devastation caused by drunk driving and why we are dedicated to a future of No More Victims®.
Then, we were pleased to turn over our Facebook feed to drunk driving advocate and victim Bill DeMott out of Florida.
We thank everyone who could attend and everyone who supports Walk Like MADD. Together, we will walk to ensure #DrunkDrivingEndsHere.
Drunk driving isn’t an adults-only issue.
Heartbreakingly, young children are often dragged into this 100 percent preventable crime by the very adults tasked with looking after their wellbeing. In fact, half of the children killed in drunk driving crashes are riding with the drunk driver.
Law enforcement officers are left to comfort and soothe these victims in an exceptionally difficult situation. So, we want to help them make it better.
We are asking people like you to donate to provide a teddy bear to law enforcement officers that they can share with children after a crash.
A small teddy bear might not seem like much, but having something soft and cuddly to squeeze in these stressful situations can do more good than you might imagine.
We will be gathering donations for bears all month long. Then, we will distribute the bears to law enforcement departments across the country.
Just imagine the comfort you can provide a child. Please consider a gift to provide a teddy bear today.
A drunk driving crash is immensely terrifying, life-altering and changes you deeply at the core level.
But can you imagine living through the trauma of impaired driving as a child? At MADD, we find the thought horrifying, especially knowing that half of the children killed by drunk driving are riding with the offender.
It makes us want to reach out to comfort each child impacted by this 100% preventable crime. But, since that’s not possible, we're asking you to donate to provide a teddy bear for law enforcement to share with a young child.
These innocent victims don’t know that mom, dad or the responsible adult is making a reckless, life-threatening decision. They don’t understand how their lives are put at risk with every passing mile. All they know is that they are scared.
This month, we will gather donations for teddy bears. Then, we will encourage law enforcement officers to request the bears you donate.
Quickly – more quickly than we would like due to the number of daily drunk driving incidents – they will get into the hands of endangered children.
Adult survivors and victims often share how painful it is to be impacted by drunk driving. The trauma is that much more intense for children, who are betrayed by the very people meant to keep them safe.
Please join us by donating to provide a bear today.