On April 11, 2004, I was a 26-year-old triathlete, with a master’s degrees, and a career in marketing with an engineering firm in Mountain View, CA. While on a bike ride on Easter Sunday morning, my boyfriend Alan Liu and I were struck from behind by a 69-year-old drunk driver, who was going 55 MPH and had a BAC of .39. Alan was killed, and I was hit about 200 yards later—the helmet saving my life.
At nearby Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, I was put on life support for about a week and underwent a 12-hour back surgery to realign my spinal column. I was transferred to Santa Clara Valley Medical Center on May 11, 2004, where I was also battling a traumatic brain injury that included a few brain surgeries. I emerged from my coma in late June and started to improve, with the help of supportive family and friends and unprecedented medical care.
On the morning we were hit, an off-duty police officer in Santa Rosa stopped the driver just after the crash and took his keys, seeing that he was impaired, and called on-duty officers and an ambulance to come immediately to the scene. The DA in Santa Rosa, Bill Brockley, was instrumental in keeping me informed about the prosecution’scase, supporting me before I was released from the hospital, and during and after the court hearing, where the offender was sentenced to 8 years and a few months at San Quentin Prison.
A few years later, when I was delivering presentations to high schools and other groups about drunk driving, the CHP Academy invited the lead investigators on my particular case to co-present with meto the CHP cadets about my case and their thorough investigation of the scene.In additionAlso, I have had the privilege of presenting for Sonoma County at a law enforcement event they held and was given the opportunity to meet a few more of the people who arrived on-scene after our 2004 crash. I’ve had the opportunity to present with law enforcement through Every 15 Minutes and the Alive at 25 programs heldat various high schools and new driver education classes across California.
Fast forward nineteen years, and I live independently in Sacramento. I volunteer for A Touch of Understanding and MADD California. I own a house,am able to drive, have a rescue dog, and a wonderful boyfriend. And of course, my family and friends have all remained by my side since that terrible day in 2004.I am forever in debt to the many law enforcement professionals who have assisted me throughout my journey. My experience is a perfect example of living the life of service once you are sworn in.
Waymo’s Mission – “Waymo’s mission is to make it safe and easy for people and things to get where they’re going. The Waymo Driver can improve the world’s access to mobility while saving thousands of lives now lost to traffic crashes.”
The question is common: If there’s an emergency or incident, how will police and emergency responders interact with a fully autonomous car?
Waymo was the first company to publish a plan to help law enforcement and other emergency responders understand how its technology and vehicles work and be prepared for any situation on the road including emergencies, collisions, and other scenarios where there is no vehicle operator.
Waymo expanded its educational efforts with the release of a training video designed to provide even more information to first responders. These materials are paired with the dozens of police and fire departments that Waymo’s team has trained for police and fire departments in its areas of operation around the country.
As the holiday season approaches, Waymo is proud to team up with MADD for its annual Tie One On For Safety campaign and urge the public not to drink and drive, and always designate a non-drinking, non-consuming driver.
Waymo is committed to improving road safety and ensuring public safety officials have the knowledge and confidence to interact with a fully autonomous car.
Officer Richard Closius has been a member of the Miami-Dade Police Department Impaired Driving Enforcement Squad for 22 years. Rick is also a Drug Recognition Expert, a DRE Instructor, and a Roadside Field Sobriety Instructor.
Officer Closius has made approximately 5000 impaired driving arrests and done 840 Drug evaluations. Besides his nightly enforcement, he is often “called out” on days off for fatal crashes and complicated Drug Evaluations.
Officer Closius is one of the very best at understanding and executing blood warrants since the 2013 Supreme Court McNeely vs Missouri decision. If he took the blood, there is no chance of a technical error. The State Attorney’s Office always breathes a sigh of relief when a DUI case has Rick Closius’s name on the A Form.
Besides Rick’s exceptional work ethic in the line of duty, he is also a dedicated volunteer for MADD. He attends all MADD Candlelight Vigils and MADD Law Enforcement Recognition Events. He cares about injured victims and the families of deceased victims. He shows his support in every way he possibly can.
Rick has achieved MADD Centennial Award status every year, which led to MADD’s Millennial Award. In Florida Millennial is awarded every subsequent year. Locally MADD has honored Officer Closius with The Trooper Robert Glenn Smith Award and the Officer William Craig DRE Award.
The MADD National Office is proud to select Officer Richard Closius of the Miami-Dade Police Department as its November 2020 Officer of the Month. We thank him for his years of dedicated service and work in removing impaired drivers from Florida’s roadways.
MADD National thanks Sally Matson, Victim Advocate, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Florida South Affiliate for her nomination of Officer Closius.
Strong drunk driving laws are key to saving lives. That is why we’re so grateful to our legislative partners who have championed MADD’s mission to end the No. 1 killer on our nation’s roads. It is why, each year, we honor lawmakers whose outstanding work has put us closer to a future of No More Victims.
These are MADD’s 2019 legislative heroes in Congress:
The RIDE and HALT Acts introduced in 2019 would require alcohol detection technology in all new vehicles.
Representative Debbie Dingell of Michigan introduced legislation to require drunk driving prevention technology in all new vehicles days after the Jan. 6, 2019 drunk driving crash claimed the lives of an entire Northville family. Dingell proposed a more wide-ranging measure in September. The Honoring the Abbas Family Legacy to Terminate (HALT) Drunk Driving Act requires federal regulatory action by 2024 to install drunk driving prevention technology in all new vehicles. The HALT Act is named for the five members of the Abbas family killed in this unthinkable tragedy: Issam and Rima Abbas and their three children, Ali, 13, Isabella, 12, and Giselle, 7. Thanks to Rep. Dingell’s leadership and tenacity on this issue, there is now momentum behind taking action to require life-saving systems in all vehicles.
MADD meets with Rep. Nita Lowey, a 2019 MADD legislative champion for her work to end drunk driving.
Representative Nita Lowey of New York has worked for decades to end the 100 percent preventable crime of drunk driving. Throughout her career, she has been a genuine force in this ongoing fight, including championing the successful effort to establish a national standard of .08 BAC, which has saved thousands of lives. Recently, Rep. Lowey proposed legislation to encourage more states to pass laws requiring ignition interlocks for all drunk driving offenders. Thirty-four states, including New York, currently have these laws, which have prevented more than 3 million attempts to drive drunk in the last 12 years. Additionally, through her position as Chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee, Rep. Lowey has worked to accelerate the development of in-vehicle technologies to prevent a drunk driver from operating a vehicle.
Senator Rick Scott of Florida introduced a bipartisan measure in October that could ultimately end drunk driving in America. The Reduce Impaired Driving for Everyone (RIDE) Act by Sens. Scott and Tom Udall of New Mexico would require the installation of passive advanced drunk driving prevention technology in all new vehicles within four years. This technology would prevent a drunk driver from operating a vehicle and save 7,000 lives a year. Sen. Scott is also a member of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, which is responsible for motor vehicle and highway safety programs and legislation. He has quickly emerged as a national legislative leader in the fight to eliminate drunk driving.
MADD has recognized Rep. Jan Schakowsky for a lifetime of work to end drunk driving.
Representative Jan Schakowsky of Illinois chaired a March 2019 hearing of the Consumer Protection Subcommittee that focused on the government-auto industry research program supported primarily by government funds for more than a decade. At that hearing, MADD National President Helen Witty challenged the auto industry to move drunk driving prevention technology development out of the research labs and make it available to consumers as soon as possible, where it could save as many as 7,000 lives a year. Rep. Schakowsky is committed to motor vehicle safety and a true advocate in the fight to end drunk driving.
Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico has consistently taken a leadership role in the fight to reduce drunk driving, including leading efforts to provide funding for a research program to develop a passive system for preventing a drunk driver from operating a vehicle. Now Senator Udall is working with Senator Scott of Florida on bipartisan legislation that would take the results of that research out of the laboratory and make the technology standard equipment in all new vehicles, like many other life-saving safety systems. The Reduce Impaired Driving for Everyone (RIDE) Act has the potential to save 7,000 lives a year and will add to Senator Udall’s legacy of advancing meaningful measures to save lives and prevent injuries.
🚨BREAKING NEWS🚨: “@MADDOnline supports Yes on Prop 22 because it will save lives. Rideshare services help keep drunk and drug impaired drivers off of our roads by providing a convenient, reliable, and affordable alternative to driving.” Helen Witty – MADD National President pic.twitter.com/DxdtftgwkH
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2021 National Lifesavers Conference Registration is Open – Registration is now open for the 2021 National Lifesavers Conference on Highway Safety Priorities, which will be held virtually. Register here >
DRE State Coordinator Best Practices Guide to Managing an Effective DEC Program – contains guidelines and recommendations for state DRE coordinators to enhance their DEC Program.
On November 12, NHTSA published a Request for Information (RFI) on available or late-stage technology under development for impaired driving detection and mitigation. The RFI’s goal is to better understand the state of emerging technologies, particularly those targeting alcohol-impaired driving. The notice requests information about the capabilities, limitations, and maturity of impaired driving technologies that are being researched, developed, or marketed.
The State of Recruitment: A Crisis for Law Enforcement
Law enforcement agencies across the United States are struggling to recruit and hire police officers. Though agency-specific needs exist depending on size or locale, the difficulty with recruitment is a significant problem that is broadly affecting the field of law enforcement. This IACP resource provides an overview of recruitment by the numbers, discusses the factors driving the recruitment crisis and the impact on the profession, and identifies innovative approaches to recruitment. View the resource here.
MADD’s recently released Marijuana Survey Report on
Misconceptions about Marijuana Consumption and Driving