This Friday evening on the season premiere of ABC’s What Would You Do? there will be a segment about parents using their children as designated drivers. You can view a preview of the segment here. While we don’t know all of the details of the episode, we do know that is a real problem that should be addressed.
Our friend, Hollywood Ruch, was only five-years-old when his impaired biological father gave the keys to Hollywood’s 13-year-old half-brother to drive. This decision ended in a crash. Hollywood lost several teeth and suffered a brain injury that affected his fine motor skills. However, Hollywood overcame this disaster and now speaks at schools and events across the country, including MADD events, sharing his story and speaking out against drunk driving. View Hollywood’s speech at MADD’s National Conference in 2010:
MADD believes that driving under the influence with a child in the car, as well as having a child drive the car, is child endangerment. As noted in our Report to the Nation, more than half of all children under the age of 15 killed in drunk driving crashes in 2009 were passengers of drunk drivers.
In 2009, 11-year-old Leandra Rosado was tragically killed when an SUV she was traveling in with seven other children crashed in New York City. The adult driver, who had a BAC of .132, was the mother of one of the other passengers. After Leandra’s death, her father tirelessly advocated for Leandra’s Law, which makes driving drunk with a child passenger under the age of 16 in the car a felony punishable by up to four years in prison. From December 18, 2009, when Leandra’s Law went into effect, through July 2011, 1,409 people were arrested in New York State for driving drunk with children in the car. This equates to four people per day arrested specifically for that offense.
Clearly, child endangerment has reached a crisis level in our nation. Each year our victim support line receives between 17,000 and 20,000 phone calls related to child endangerment. States must act now to pass tougher laws and send messages that it is not ok to drive drunk, worse still with a child in the car.
If you know someone who drinks and drives, or worse, with children in the car, read our “Someone You Know Drinks and Drives” brochure where you will also find a section about what to do if your child may be at risk.
We hope you will tune in this Friday to see the episode, and let us know what you would do on Facebook or Twitter.