DRUNK DRIVING
RATING
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How Does Your State Rate?

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Understanding Drunk Driving

A complex problem with proven solutions



Year after year, our data

shows the same thing:

smart, comprehensive drunk driving laws

lead to fewer deaths.

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What goes into a state’s rating?

Mothers Against Drunk Driving® uses a five-star system to rate every state’s efforts to encourage the adoption of proven countermeasures that save lives and prevent impaired driving. While fatalities and injuries are the ultimate measure of effectiveness, there is a strong connection between adoption of these tactics and reductions in needless deaths and injuries.

In the end, only one number matters – zero. We won’t stop until we get to zero. But to get there, it will take a commitment from politicians and leaders in all 50 states to end this 100 percent preventable crime.

Ignition Interlocks

On any given day, you and your family share the roadways with more than two million drunk drivers, who have three or more prior convictions. These drivers, on average, driven drunk 80 times prior to the first arrest. Continually, offenders roll the dice with your safety. Eventually, the numbers catch up with them, but that’s a small comfort to those they injure and kill.

While suspending the license of these individuals makes sense, in reality, three out of four of those with a suspended license continue to drive, threatening the safety of you and your loved ones. The research shows that interlocks reduce repeat offenses by two-thirds and reduce fatalities by 15 percent not just while the device is installed but even later after its removal. It’s a long-term, behavior-changing solution that does not prevent someone from legally driving to treatment or work.

That’s why MADD supports the usage of ignition interlock devices, or in-car breathalyzers, to require all convicted drunk drivers to prove they are sober before the car will start.

High-Visibility Law Enforcement

Law enforcement has always been a key part of preventing drunk driving. After all, they are the men and women who bravely work to catch and arrest those who chose to drive drunk. However, law enforcement also plays a key role in the deterring people from driving drunk to start. The reality is the threat of getting caught is a powerful prevention tool.

And the most effective way to mobilize law enforcement is a one-two punch: 1) conduct highly effective enforcement efforts like sobriety checkpoints and saturation patrols and 2) publicize these efforts. This sends a clear message to the public – if you drive drunk, you will be caught – that saves lives and prevents injuries.

Administrative License Revocation

Administrative License Revocation (ALR) removes the immediate threat of a drunk driving harming innocent bystanders by giving administrative agencies the ability to restrict driving privileges or an ignition interlock requirement while the offender awaits trial. The reality is that the legal process can be long, especially when cunning criminal defense attorneys employ tactics designed to drag out the proceeding. In fact, it is not unusual for a case to last one, two or even three years. Some stretch on even longer.

ALR enables law enforcement to keep the public safe while the justice system does its job.

Child Endangerment

Drunk driving is never acceptable. But driving drunk with a child passenger is a form of child abuse. Unfortunately, this happens far too often. In fact, over 50% of children involved in a drunk driving crash are riding with the offender. It layers tragedy upon tragedy when the very adult responsible for protecting a child, our most precious resource, is the very person endangering their life. Even if these young passengers, who cannot choice NOT to ride with the offender, escape physical harm, they often experience emotional and mental consequences. For those reasons, MADD believes that additional penalties should be assessed to ANY offender who drives drunk with a child in the car.

Refusals

Refusing to be tested for alcohol or drugs shouldn’t be a way for an alleged offender to evade arrest and prosecution. And yet too often it is.

Thanks to the efforts of some criminal defense attorneys to publicize this tactic, about 20% of suspected drunk drivers now refuse a sobriety test. In response, many states have successfully implemented laws designed to punish individuals who refuse to submit to an alcohol breath test.

These laws were recently challenged by the Supreme Court, which upheld them as constitutional, but did rule that blood and urine tests required a warrant. Some law enforcement agencies have responded by implementing expedited warrant procedures in order to quickly collect physical evidence from suspected impaired drivers before it dissipates from their bodies.

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Drunk Driving Deaths 1982 - 2015

When MADD was founded in 1980, an estimated 25,000 people were killed in drunk driving crashes each year. Since then, we've been able to cut that deadly toll by more than half, but there is still more work to be done.

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Read Our Past Reports

 

Report to the Nation 2016 Report to the Nation 2015 Report to the Nation 2014