MADD’s 2016 Legislators of the Year
MADD is excited to announce our “2016 Legislators of the Year” — 69 lawmakers across the country honored for their dedication to saving lives and advancing MADD’s ultimate goal — creating a nation of No More Victims of the 100 percent preventable crime of drunk driving.
We thank the following elected officials for authoring and championing live-saving legislation in 2016:
California: Senator Jerry Hill (pictured to the left with Program Director of MADD California-San Francisco Bay Area Natasha Thomas) authored SB 1046 to improve California’s ignition interlock law by incentivizing the use of an ignition interlock after the first offense and requiring interlocks repeat offenders and offenders who cause injury or death. SB 1046 would allow all first-time drunk driving offenders the choice between using an ignition interlock for six months or receiving a one-year license suspension with the possibility of route-restricted driving privileges after 30 days. The legislation is awaits the Governor’s signature.
Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (pictured below with Executive Director of MADD San Diego Steve Lykins and former National Board Member and longtime volunteer Nina Walker) authored AB 2121, which would require training for California bartenders, servers, and managers in responsible beverage service (RBS). Specifically, AB 2121 seeks to help individuals who serve alcohol meet their statutory requirement to not serve obviously intoxicated patrons or minors by requiring participation in an RBS training program approved by the Department of Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC). AB 2121 also is pending the Governor’s signature.
Colorado: Rep. Rhonda Fields and Rep. Polly Lawrence have proven themselves to be strong defenders of crime victims’ rights. Rep. Fields and Rep. Lawrence co-chair the Crime Victim Rights Caucus to educate other legislators on important victim rights issues. During the legislative session and throughout the year, Rep. Fields and Rep. Lawrence fight for the rights of those who have been so unjustly impacted by the crimes of others.
Senator John Cooke and Senator Mike Johnston also worked with Rep. Lawrence to pass important legislation to strengthen the victim impact panel program in Colorado. The purpose of the Victim Impact Panel program is to educate people convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs about the lasting and long-term effects of substance impaired driving and to change thinking and behavior to prevent future DUIs. Each year, MADD conducts 156 separate Victim Impact Panels in 19 cities across Colorado — educating approximately 13,000 drunk and drugged driving offenders.
Connecticut: Fourteen lawmakers teamed up to work on SB 365 or Public Act 16-126, creating a DUI child endangerment law, as well as HB 5629 or Public Act 16-182 An Act Concerning A Diversionary Program for Persons Under Age Twenty-One For Motor Vehicle Violation And Crimes Related To Underage Drinking. They are: Representative Al Adinolfi, Representative Joe Aresimowicz, Representative Christie Carpino, Senator Eric Coleman, Senator Leonard Fasano, Representative Mary Fritz, Representative Stephen Harding, Senator Tony Hwang, Senator John Kissel, Representative Themis Klarides, Senator Martin Looney, Representative Rosa Rebimbas, Representative Richard Smith and Representative William Tong.
Washington, DC: Councilmember Mary Cheh authored the Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Act which was signed into law this summer. The measure also requires ignition interlocks for all drunk drivers for at least six months.
Florida: Senator David Simmons and Representatives Scott Plakon and Robert Cortes authored DUI reform legislation SB 1244/HB 555 in 2016. Originally, the legislation increased penalties for drunk drivers who refuse a chemical test, including to require all offenders who refuse to utilize an ignition interlock. Due to pending Supreme Court cases and concerns from lawmakers, the legislation was amended to require ignition interlocks for six months for all drunk drivers. Representative Katie Edwards authored HB 1363 increasing the use of ignition interlocks through DUI courts.
Georgia: Representative Tom Rice authored HB 205, which creates a first-time offender interlock law and allows any drunk driver and offender who refuses a chemical test to utilize an ignition interlock. Prior to the passage of this legislation, Georgia was one of only a handful of states that failed to utilize ignition interlocks for first-time offenders. MADD is also pleased to honor Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle for his efforts in guiding this lifesaving legislation through the Senate.
Indiana: Representative Timothy Wesco authored successful ignition interlock fix-up legislation HB 1130, which will help boost the number of interlocks used in Indiana.
Maryland: Delegate Ben Kramer and Senator Jamie Raskin authored Noah’s Law, making Maryland’s ignition interlock law a model for other states. Delegate David Fraser-Hidalgo authored Alex and Calvin’s Law, which toughens the state’s penalties for serving alcohol to those who are under 21.
Massachusetts: Senator James Timilty authored all-offender interlock legislation SB 1895. The legislation was amended onto another bill that passed the Senate — the furthest all-offender interlock legislation ever made it in Massachusetts. The legislation ran out of time in 2016. Massachusetts is one of only two states that fails to utilize interlocks for first-time offenders (Idaho is the other).
Michigan: Representative Klint Kesto authored all-offender ignition interlock legislation HB 5456. Senator Tonya Schuitmaker authored SB 808, which would allow the Secretary of State to create a MADD fundraising license plate and assign all proceeds from the sale of these plates to assist MADD in carrying out its mission.
Mississippi: Representative Patricia Willis, Representative Andy Gipson, Senator David Parker, Senator Sean Tindell, and Representative Kevin Horan worked on legislation to strengthen its ignition interlock laws and improve coordination of DUI records throughout the state.
Missouri: Representative Caleb Jones for his efforts on HB 2255, which allows any person who is required to have an ignition interlock device installed to apply to the court for a variance to drive an employer-owned vehicle without the device. The exemption shall not apply in certain situations, and the offender may not drive the employer-owned vehicle with certain passengers or for personal use. HB 2255 was amended onto SB 657 to eventually become law.
New York: Senator George Amedore and Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas authored S4769A and A4719B, which improves the drugged driving law. Assemblyman John McDonald III, Assemblyman Dean Murray and Assemblyman David McDonough also cosponsored this legislation. S4769A and A 4719B gives prosecutors and law enforcement the tools necessary to hold drugged drivers accountable — including those who drive under the influence of bath salts, synthetic marijuana and difluoroethane. Current New York law allows driving under the influence of these substances.
Ohio: Representative Gary Scherer authored HB 388, or Annie's Law, which incentivizes the use of interlocks for first-time offenders. The legislation passed the House in May and is pending consideration in the Senate.
Pennsylvania: Senator John Rafferty and Representative Keith Greiner authored SB 290/HB 278 requiring interlocks for all first-time offenders with a BAC of .10 or greater. The legislation was signed into law by Governor Wolf earlier this year.
Rhode Island: Senator Stephen Archambault authored all-offender ignition interlock legislation SB 2370 requiring all DUI offenders applying for a hardship license to have an ignition interlock. Representative Gregg Amore authored the House version of this lifesaving legislation.
South Carolina: Representative Eddie Tallon authored H 3165 to address the problem of DUI offenders simply moving to mopeds and being able to continually drive drunk without any recourse.
Senator Larry Martin authored S 178 attempting to address the state’s serious issue of losing DUI cases over minor issues with the videotape of the arrest, and S 428 to require approved responsible beverage service training for those who sell alcohol.
Tennessee: Senator John Stevens and Representative William Lamberth authored ignition interlock fixup legislation SB2065 and HB 1843.
Representative Lamberth also authored with Senator Randy McNally HB 1478 and SB 1572 boosting penalties for offenders on their sixth offense.
Representative Mark White authored legislation improving DUI reporting (HB 2199 and HB 1427). Senator Mark Norris authored similar legislation to improve DUI reporting (SB 2577 and SB 2576).
Senator Norris also authored SB 1156 boosting penalties for impaired drivers making certain DUI offenders illegible for probation. Representative G.A. Hardaway authored similar legislation HB 0401.
Representative Joe Pitts and Senator Kerry Roberts authored Tyler Head’s Law (HB 1514 and SB 1730), establishing a roadside memorial sign program for victims of impaired driving.
Senator Doug Overbey and Representative Dale Carr authored SB 35 and HB 576, effective January 1, 2017, which makes those convicted of vehicular homicide, when alcohol and or other drugs are involved, ineligible for probation.
Vermont: Representative Willem Jewett authored all-offender interlock legislation H 560, which, was amended onto H 876, making Vermont one of three states plus Washington D.C. to enact an all-offender interlock law in 2016.
Wisconsin: Representative André Jacque and Senator Roger Roth authored legislation allowing for law enforcement to obtain a search warrant for first-time offenders who refuse an alcohol chemical test. The legislation, SB 29, was signed into law.
Senator Alberta Darling and Representative Jim Ott authored legislation making all fourth drunk driving offenses felonies.
Senator Van Wanggaard authored interlock improvement legislation SB 222.
Senator Chris Larson authored all-offender interlock legislation SB 484.
Anna Louise Rooney, fondly known as Annie, of Chillicothe, Ohio was killed by a drunk driver the night of July 4th, 2013. Annie was traveling home after borrowing a friend’s bike for an upcoming race when an oncoming driver crossed into her lane and hit her head on going 80 mph.
Annie was just 36 years old when her life was cut tragically short by a drunk driver. She graduated from Western Reserve Academy in Hudson, Ohio in 1995 where she was a star athlete. Annie went on to graduate from Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island in 1999 and the Law School of Lewis and Clark in Portland, Oregon. Prior to returning to Chillicothe, Annie took up residence as a prosecuting attorney in Bozeman, Montana, where she served her community by aggressively prosecuting domestic violence and DUI cases.
Annie had a passion for adventure and fed that passion through travel. She traveled and lived all over the world including every continent except for Antarctica (however that was on her list!) exploring every inch of this world that she could. She was dearly loved by many; known for her charm, sense of humor, moral courage, her generous smile, and her unique ability to make others feel loved. One of Annie’s most memorable characteristics was her boundless energy filled with her unending optimism.
Professionally, Annie was a successful prosecutor and a tireless advocate for crime victims. Her hard work and dedication continued to inspire those around her.
One of her former colleagues best described her through this quote, “She was the one you looked at and (were) just amazed by. You wanted to be like her, but you couldn’t figure out how.”
In Ohio, Annie has been the inspiration for a new proposed law, pending in the Ohio General Assembly, called “Annie’s Law”. The bill, championed by Rep. Gary Scherer, R-Circleville, would require ignition interlock devices in any vehicle operated by convicted DUI offenders. Meaning that a driver has to pass a Breathalyzer test in order to be able to start the vehicle. The Rooney family has advocated for this bill as a tribute to Annie’s life and to make sure that she didn’t die in vain. Drunk driving offenders convicted of operating a vehicle while under the influence could ask a judge to have an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicles in exchange for a shorter driving suspension. With the ignition interlock device installed in the offender’s car the vehicle won’t start if there is alcohol on the driver’s breath.
Not only has Annie inspired a law, but she has now become the inspiration for “Team Annie” in Walk Like MADD, for both the Central Ohio Walk (October 1, 2016, Homestead Park, Hilliard, Ohio) and Greater Cincinnati Walk (October 22, Summit Park, Blue Ash, Ohio). The team members are walking to end drunk driving in Ohio, so that tragedies like Annie’s don’t continue to happen. Team Annie has raised nearly $1,900 for the Greater Cincinnati Walk Like MADD and more than $2,000 towards their $3,000 goal for the Central Ohio Walk Like MADD.
A California District Attorney DUI-focused unit led by a California District Attorney's Office has earned its first big win this summer in the fight against drugged driving – a murder conviction for a drugged impaired driver.
Rodolfo Alberto Contreras was sentenced in July to 20 years in prison after being convicted by a jury of second-degree murder, gross vehicular manslaughter while impaired by marijuana, and DUI by marijuana causing injury.
“As we begin this statewide discussion about legalization of marijuana, we cannot ignore the potential consequences of making it more accessible,” said County of Kern District Attorney Lisa S. Green. “I hope our legislature will take the appropriate actions to ensure law enforcement has the tools to cope with the increase of cases similar to this one.”
Contreras ran a red light at an intersection in Kern County around noon in March of 2014. Driving close to 80 miles per hour, he lost control of his Honda, crossed the center divider, and struck an oncoming Ford Explorer. The driver of the Explorer, David Aggio, was killed on impact. His wife was seriously injured.
Contreras' Honda split in two, hitting two additional vehicles. Fortunately, no one in those two vehicles was injured.
Witnesses described the 400-feet of debris as resembling an “airplane crash site.”
Contreras had smoked marijuana that morning. His blood was tested after the collision, showing 16 nanograms of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. He had no other drugs in his system. When a witness told him he had killed someone, Contreras said, “I want my weed,” according to the Office of the District Attorney County of Kern press release.
The field-long passes, the perfect blocks, and running back who just barely catches that impossible catch - football players deliver the thrills and chills that captivate us as nation.
Not only do we watch their every move on the field, fans young and old are watching their favorite sports heroes offline as well.
That's why MADD was so pleased this year to extend its partnership with the National Football League (NFL) by giving the 2016 rookies a few drills of our own.
|Denver Broncos||Indianapolis Colts|
During an intensive, travel-filled, two-week time period, MADD Difference Makers and volunteers criss-crossed the country, eventually sharing our lifesaving message with 30 of 32 NFL teams. It isn't every day we have the opportunity to speak to players who may influence not only this generation but also the next, so we were grateful for the opportunity.
We shared our data. We shared our stories. And we shared our hearts and our mission with them.
And they responded warmly!
"This is not only an excellent opportunity to connect with teams to build local mission activities, but, also, to help make a difference in building young men's lives," said MADD CEO Debbie Weir, who presented to the Dallas Cowboys and the Carolina Panthers.
|MADD CEO Debbie Weir with the Dallas Cowboys||and the Carolina Panthers rookie players.|
A 100% preventable crime?
Every 52 minutes someone is killed in a drunk driving crash and every two minutes someone is injured. With 300,000 drunk driving incidences DAILY, sadly, two out of three people will be impacted by drunk driving in their lifetime.
Speaking before groups of 20-some players, these often-repeated statistics were brought to life.
"About two-thirds of the Steelers' rookies in attendance knew of someone involved in a drunk or drug impaired crash," said MADD Pennsylvania Program Manager Malcolm Friend. "It was startling to see how many people's lives were already touched."
|San Diego Chargers||Minnesota Vikings|
For those athletes lucky enough to not have experienced the trauma drunk driving inflicts, we asked a victim to share their personal story. During the Atlanta Falcons presentation, that victim was Allie Hood, a national MADD teen influencer, who along with her sister shared how a drunk driver killed her brother.
"My sister, Taylor, and I shared our story of losing our brother Tyler and shared how MADD has tremendously impacted our lives. The players were visually moved and brought to tears by our story," she said. "One reason I believe they were effected is because they got to see two teenagers whose lives have been shattered and forever changed by the careless and senseless act of a drunk driver. I think we helped them understand that crashes can happen to anyone, not just people in the news or the 'other' person"
"Sharing our story is very tough and hard to get through. But if it makes the players more aware that drunk driving effects a lot of people beside themselves and that it only takes ONE time, it’s worth it. That means we have potentially saved a life in that room, as well as in our community," Allie said. "The reality is that Taylor and I are only a couple of years younger than these players, so young people like us can impact them."
|Oakland Raiders||Atlanta Falcons|
We also talked with the rookies about their role as community leaders.
We asked them to consider all the ramifications of mixing drinking and driving – from the legal consequences and damage to their career and reputation to the very real danger of killing or hurting other people.
We ended the presentations by sharing solutions, such as planning on how to get home before the celebration begins. That means having a designated driver, calling a taxi, taking public transportation or calling an Uber.
"The players all use Uber as an alternative form of transportation," Malcom Friend said. "The ones that did not before our presentaiton had the app on their smartphones by the end of the day!"
Wondering where to park at Dallas Walk Like MADD? What will the course look like? And how will you remember, inspire and commit? Get all the behind-the-scenes details below.
Losing a loved one is never easy. Death, no matter the cause, inflicts grief, turbulence, and sadness.
However, under a particular set of traumatic conditions, death transforms into “traumatic death.” A death caused by a drunk or drugged driving crash is always traumatic by its very definition.
What is traumatic death?
If a person dies from a long-term illness, the family members have time to mentally and emotionally prepare. Preparations may be made for burial, and both the family and the loved one can exert at least some control of the situation, such as deciding on funeral arrangements together. Importantly, friends and family members often have the opportunity to say goodbye.
In a drunk or drugged driving crash, all of that is taken away.
People impacted by these violent crimes rarely have that opportunity for closure or preparation.
It hits a person out of the blue and with no warning. Often the victim and family members have no control over the situation at all.
Our brains recognize this difference and respond differently. With traumatic death, the memories are often stored deep within the brain as long-term memories. This means that drunk and drugged driving victims and survivors may have vibrant and intense memories of the event, even years later. These memories can trigger intense and overwhelming feelings no matter how much time has passed.
What can you do?
People experiencing a traumatic death must heal at their own pace and in their own way. Support of friends and family is crucial, especially long-term support.
Many people find the ability to talk about the crash or the lost loved one to be healing, and many victims hold ceremonies, sometimes annually, to honor and remember.
Drunk driving irrevocably changes people’s lives in ways we can’t imagine. Encourage victims to take the time to eat right and exercise or other self-healing habits. Hobbies like journaling or yoga offer some people relief.
MADD’s Victim Advocates seek to help victims find the right approach for each individual. If you are a victim of drunk or drugged driving, please call our national 24/7 Victim Help Line at 1-877-MADD-HELP.
On August 19, 2016 Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, Florida Highway Patrol, and Plant City deputies held a DUI Wolfpack that started in Plant City, Florida.
A DUI Wolfpack is an enhanced law enforcement effort to crack down on impaired driving. These operations are part of an ongoing commitment to reduce deaths, injuries and property damage associated with traffic crashes related to impaired driving. Their goal was to remove as many impaired drivers from the road as possible, before the drunk drivers could cause damage or death.
More than 20 DUI arrests were made, saving countless numbers of lives, and ensuring that there were NO MORE VICTIMS on their watch!
Before the Wolfpack, MADD volunteers provided food, water and snacks for the large group of officers, troopers and deputies – totaling over 35 men and women! Thanks goes to ABC Pizza in Plant City, as well the volunteers who brought food.
Before the briefing started, MADD gave a huge thank you to Deputy Larry Morrell, who will be retiring December 31, 2016. Deputy Morrell has been in law enforcement for 38 years, and with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office for 25 years, and in law enforcement for nearly 38 years. He has made over 2,000 DUI arrests and arrested approximately 500 people for underage drinking possession! He serves on MADD’s advisory board, is well respected in the community due to his dedication to prevent impaired drivers from ever getting behind the wheel, and intensive efforts to prevent underage drinking.
Our thanks also go out to Wellcare and Staywell in their offers to donate!
By Donna Billingsley
My name is Donna Billingsley, and my son Stephen was killed instantly in a head on crash with a drunk driver March 7, 2003.
Stephen had a booming voice, a quick wit, an incredible imagination and a heart of gold. He loved chaos and controversy, and, if there wasn’t any, he made something up. He was an absent minded professor. His dream was to create anime with his girl Cass, who survived the crash.
Cass is from Australia, and they met through an online game. She came to the States about three months before the crash. Stephen was so nervous to meet her he got the time difference wrong and arrived at the airport a day early. He had to come home without her.
Stephen has a brother, Derek, and a sister, Paige. Partners in crime (hahaha). We each have our demons to deal with since the crash. For me, I cannot let Stephen or the reason he died be forgotten. My family has accepted my passion, and they just roll with it. His face is on the back window of my jeep so people can see who they are willing to kill if they drive drunk.
Even though it is difficult to get started each year for the MADD Walk, I am so grateful to be able to do good with the sadness I feel every day. With the help of my wonderful family, friends and generous community, I feel like we can make a difference.
This year, we set up tables at stores with posters and ribbons and asked everyone if they would like to help - and most did. Amazing people!!!
As long as anyone who loved Stephen lives and breathes, he will NOT be forgotten! To keep Stephen’s memory alive we will be walking on Saturday, September 10th at the Lubbock County Courthouse in Lubbock, TX. Please join us as we end drunk driving or make a donation.
So far in this election, presidential candidates have talked about topics ranging from the econmy and jobs to foreign affairs. But they haven’t talked about an issue that killed more than 10,000 people last year alone – drunk driving. Which presidential candidate will end drunk driving?
The reckless, criminal decision to drink and drive takes place more than 300,000 times a day, tragically robbing us of someone to this 100% preventable crime every 51 minutes. That means nearly two people will die during the course of the 90-minute debate. Clearly, this is an issue of national importance with far-reaching implications, especially as the number of drunk driving deaths tops 10,000 deaths for the first time in years.
It must end. And that’s worth talking about.
Let’s demand the conversation start at the top. Join us in asking the presidential candidates to address their plans to end drunk driving in the upcoming debate.
Will you vote FOR discussing drunk driving prevention during the debates? You can add your voice to the call in as little as three clicks.
Let’s get this on the debate stage!
Today, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released its annual report on traffic fatalities for 2015. The bad news is that overall fatalities went up 7.2 percent. Alcohol deaths also went up, but the good news is that for the first time ever drunk driving deaths are below 30 percent of all crashes at 29 percent. Drunk Driving fatalities increased by 3.2 percent, from 9,943 in 2014 to 10,265 in 2015.
As a nation, we must do more to prevent these 100% preventable tragedies. The states that have good interlock laws continue to perform better than the others. We are making progress with our keen focus on our Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving and advocating for all offender ignition interlock laws. Since the Campaign was launched 10 years ago, the number of people killed in drunk driving crashes has dropped by 24 percent.
According to the new data, drunk driving deaths in West Virginia have been reduced by 50 percent since enacting an ignition interlock law for all offenders in 2008. The reduction just from 2014 to 2015 alone was 15 percent. New Mexico passed its all-offender ignition interlock law in 2005, and drunk driving deaths are down 37 percent, with a 16.2 percent drop from 2014 to 2015. Kansas also has seen a 37 percent reduction in drunk driving deaths since enacting an all-offender law in 2011, with a 22 percent drop from 2014 to 2015.
Other states with all-offender ignition interlock laws:
• Alabama (Effective July 2014): 5% reduction
• Arizona (Effective September 2007): 31% reduction
• Arkansas (Effective April 2009): 12% reduction
• Colorado (Effective January 2009): 14% reduction
• Hawaii (Effective January 2011): 23% reduction
• Illinois: (Effective January 2009): 13% reduction
• Louisiana (Effective July 2007): 33% reduction
• Mississippi (Effective October 2014): 16% reduction
• Missouri: (Effective March 2014): 9% reduction
• Tennessee: (Effective September 2013): 11% reduction
• Texas (Effective September 2015): 8% reduction
• Utah (Effective July 2009): 12% reduction
• Virginia (Effective July 2012): 8% reduction
• Washington (Effective January 2009): 19% reduction
MADD also applauds the 28 states and the District of Columbia that have passed all-offender ignition interlock laws. But we want to see every state pass laws that will save lives. This year, MADD calls on the 22 states that don’t have an all-offender ignition interlock law to take action to protect their residents and visitors. We challenge every state with an all-offender law to evaluate and improve existing laws to ensure all offenders use an ignition interlock as soon as possible after a drunk driving offense.
Together, we will create a Nation of No More Victims!
What’s a MADD membership perk?
It’s the knowledge that you’re contributing to the declining number of drunk driving deaths.
It’s the passion you receive from working toward the challenging, yet achievable, goal of ending drunk driving.
It’s the feeling when you know you’re helping to strengthen laws, support victims of drunk and driving, and educate the next generation regarding the dangers of underage drinking.
If you have a moment, please let us know about what it was like to donate to MADD. It's really easy - simply click below to let us know if you would call your experience a positive or negative one.
Again, thank you. Your gift to our campaigns mean the world to us – and it means fewer people will have their lives turned tragically upside down by drunk driving.
Together, we will end drunk driving.
This past weekend, San Diego was plagued with three alleged drunk driving crashes that ripped apart three separate families - all within hours of each other.
The crashes killed three people, including a victim who may have been trying to stop someone from driving drunk. The devastation took place between Saturday night and Sunday morning.
"This was obviously a devastating weekend for our community, and I only hope it helps the public understand that this problem is real. This problem is relevant. And we need to take action," said MADD San Diego Program Specialist Cristi Walker.
The First Crash
The first crash struck at 7 p.m. Saturday in Ramona when a full-size Chevrolet pickup truck with a 51-year-old male driver struck a late model Buick sedan and a Mini Cooper, according to Channel Seven in San Diego.
The Mini Cooper caught fire, resulting in the death of the driver at the scene. The driver of the Buick sustained non-life threatening injuries, and the truck driver received a broken wrist. Drunk driving became a possible cause after law enforcement officers discovered beer cans in the truck driver's vehicle. He has been arrested on alcohol-related charges, including felony vehicular manslaughter.
The Second Crash
Then, around 1 a.m. Sunday on Camina Ruiz in Mira Mesa, a 21-year-old man t-boned the vehicle of a 19-year-old driver, who was pulling onto the street. The 19-year-old driver died at the hospital. Alcohol is suspected in the crash. The 20-year-old alleged offender received non-life threatening injuries.
The Third Crash
The third crash occurred in Mira Mesa by a hotel, possibly because the victim was trying to STOP someone from drunk driving.
Jonathan Merkley, according to witnesses, stood in front of a car in an effort to prevent a friend from driving after drinking. The suspect got into his vehicle, allegedly hit Merkley, and fled the scene.
How many more crashes will take place tomorrow or the next day? We have the ability to stop this 100% preventable crime. Isn't it time we say enough is enough?
Let's prevent this type of weekend from reoccurring.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving applauds the recent landmark decision by Maryland Supreme Court, which advances the prevention of underage drinking by holding adults accountable for illegally providing alcohol to underage drinkers. MADD is proud to have filed an amicus brief in the Nancy Dankos, et al. v. Linda Stapf case, asking the court to hold adults liable for deaths or injuries caused by the underage drinkers.
The Dankos ruling is the result of a tragic case in Maryland that claimed the life of high school football star Steven Dankos, who, along with other friends, climbed into the bed of a pickup truck driven by an intoxicated driver. They had been drinking at a party hosted at the home of Linda Stapf. As a result, Steven’s mother sued Ms. Stapf.
The court’s ruling in favor of Ms. Dankos puts so-called “cool parents” on notice that they will be held morally, criminally and now financially responsible for the consequences of their actions. Not only does the court’s decision establish proximate causation when “cool parents” intentionally and knowingly allow children to consume alcohol on their premises, but it also removes any issue of contributory negligence on the part of the underage drinker. In other words, “cool parents” may be held 100% responsible.
There is a cultural shift occurring across the country that underage drinking is not cool. It was not cool that Ms. Stapf allowed children to get drunk in her garage. It was not cool that Ms. Stapf allowed high school football star Steven Dankos to get into the back of a truck with a drunk driver. It was not cool that Steven lost his life and Nancy Dankos lost her son at the young age of 17. This landmark decision in Maryland will save the precious lives of children across the country.
MADD will continue to advocate for the criminalization of actions by adults who provide or allow alcoholic beverages at events for underage participants. The 21 minimum drinking age is one of the most researched and reviewed public health laws in our country and has saved about 800 lives per year. MADD encourages all parents to support the 21 drinking age and talk to their kids about the dangers of underage drinking.
Let’s be clear however, underage drinking is an adult problem. In order for those under 21 to obtain alcohol, an adult somewhere must break the law. For parents who provide or permit underage drinking in their home, the case in Maryland and similar cases across the nation are stark reminders of the tragic consequences. MADD takes our mission to prevent underage drinking seriously. As this case reminds us, underage drinking is completely devastating and 100% preventable.
For more information on how to talk to your middle and high schoolers about alcohol, visit www.madd.org/powerofparents.
Hear from MADD Colorado Difference Maker Jen Clouse as she shares how one of the first families she served has progressed along their healing journey - and how that personally impacted her and her efforts to support victims.
She originally shared this during a MADD staff meeting. At MADD, we often begin meetings with a brief story about a victim or survivor. We call these "Mission Moments," and they remind us of why we do what we do - and why we don't stop until we end drunk driving.
By Jennifer Clouse
Lead Victim Services Specialist
I wanted to share a moment I had recently with a couple named Mike and Stacey Jones.
They were the first new case I got when I started at MADD in 2012, and they have been with us ever since. Their son, Daniel Michael Jones, was a student at the University of Colorado. He was pursuing a degree in in Environmental Engineering, but he had recently discovered a passion and a talent for drawing and painting. I’ve seen his art, and it's incredible.
On the evening of May 26, 2012 Daniel was driving home. It was Memorial Day weekend. Coming from the opposite direction was a 24-year-old driver, who was impaired by drugs and alcohol. Speeding more than 100mph, he crossed the median and hit Daniel head on. Both cars were engulfed in flames; both young men were killed.
When MADD CEO Debbie Weir visited the Colorado office recently, we talked about this family, and Debbie brought up the idea of getting a Portrait for Healing done for the family. The portrait of Daniel arrived last week, and it was beautiful.
I met up with Mike and Stacey at a golf tournament they hold every year to fund the scholarship they started in Daniel's name. The portrait was a surprise for them, and their reactions to this surprise filled my heart. Stacey brought her hand over her mouth, and she started crying.
Then, she touched the drawing of Daniel's face as if it was actually his face. I looked over at Mike. He is a big teddy bear of a guy. There were tears at the corner of his eyes, and he put his head down. Mike said his son's name, “Daniel" - just like we do when MADD honors victims and survivors.
Before going to the golf tournament, I had been feeling overwhelmed with the heaviness of what we do, but, after watching them receive this portrait, I felt lighter. It of course reminded me of why we do what we do and how we make a difference.
But beyond that, it reminded me of the gift that our victim families bring to our organization.
They bring something that cannot be quantified. For me personally, Mike and Stacey gave me a memory I will cherish. The next time I am feeling overwhelmed and heavy, I will remember the look in Stacey's eyes when she looked at the drawing of her son. I will remember the gentle way she touched the picture and cried. I will remember mike's tone of voice when he said Daniel's name. And I will remember how tightly they hugged me when I left.
I am so grateful that I got to be part of that moment with them. And I am also grateful that I was able to share that moment with everyone at the staff meeting.
This Labor Day weekend, when so many law enforcement officials and first responders will be working so hard to prevent more tragic drunk driving deaths, let us thank them for their labors.
In the last decade, more than 600 police officers have lost their lives in traffic fatalities, making it the number one cause of officer deaths. Every day and night, these officers work to protect us, even when it calls for the ultimate sacrifice.
So, this month, we’re asking restaurants big and small in all 50 states to open their doors Wednesday August 31st to provide a meal to law enforcement officers and all first responders in recognition of their efforts to keep our roads safe.
Let us make this a moment to unite in gratitude, to celebrate our communities and those who protect it, and to unanimously say in one voice, “We know your job isn't easy, and we can't say thank you enough.” Check here to see if your favorite restaurant has already joined with us or invite them to participate today.
If you are a restaurant owner, will you put your own Blue Line Special on the menu for one day? Discover how you can take part in this community-building event here.
MADD recognizes the critical role law enforcement officers play in ending drunk driving. In fact, supporting active, visible law enforcement efforts is a major part of our three-pronged blueprint for ending this criminal behavior, along with advanced technology and ignition interlocks. Supporting sobriety checkpoints, providing victim notification training, and recognizing the heroes who put their lives on the line every shift are just part of the ways MADD supports the law enforcement and first responder community.
We have so many lessons to impart to our children.
Eat your vegetables. Keep your hands to yourself. Treat others as you wish to be treated.
And, most importantly, be safe. Please, above all, be safe, we tell them without always providing the necessary, actionable information to do so, especially when it comes to alcohol.
Telling them to be safe just isn’t enough then.
Talking to your child about not drinking until 21 years of age becomes even more difficult thanks to a culture complacent about drunk driving, advertising that targets teens, and peer pressure.
That’s why MADD developed its Power of Parents® program, which aims to put the information and strategies that work to prevent underage drinking directly in a parent’s hand.
When we started the program, we had quite a lot to say.
MADD’s Power of Parents handbooks provide you the tools needed to start talking with your teens and middle schoolers about this important topic. By reading these handbooks and following their guidelines, you can substantially reduce the chance your son or daughter will drink before the age of 21.
While the information and tactics remain valid, we understand the handbooks take a little time to plow through and may cover more topics than a parent needs at that moment.
That’s why we are proud to share the creation of customized, bite-sized topical guides, each focused on a specific topic related to preventing underage drinking. Sponsored by the National Alcohol Beverage Control Association, the guides will serve as quick reads that deliver a punch of just-the-right information and strategies.
The first topical guide, Your Teen’s World, will publish this summer. It will still include the insightful and highly useful data gathered by Dr. Robert Turrisi, whose groundbreaking research on teens and alcohol consumption continues to shatter drinking myths.
Next, this fall, we will share Parenting Styles, an in-depth examination of various parenting styles and the impact it has on whether a child drinks underage or not.
Talking About Alochol will publish sometime near the winter holidays. This guide will provide you with real, concrete tools to talk with your teen in a manner that gets through to them!
These shorter, more focused guides will make it possible for parents to receive just the information needed for specific topic at hands.
We look forward to sharing our new guides with you. Find out more about our Power of Parents here.