First there’s the crash, then the lifelong impact… Driving while impaired is, without a doubt, an absolutely preventable crime. Deciding to drink, or use other impairing substances, and then get behind the wheel is not an unfortunate accident, it’s a choice. Yet, since MADD formed in 1980, the simplicity of this fact has been lost in the shuffle of legal arguments pitting perceived personal rights against the reasonable expectation of the general public to feel safe on their local streets and highways. For almost 35 years, MADD Victim Services staff and local chapter volunteers have been dedicated to supporting victims/survivors of impaired driving crashes and to establishing tougher laws that address stiffer penalties for impaired driving crimes. MADD, nationwide, has accomplished this by creating a greater awareness on the part of government and the public about the seriousness of driving while impaired and by supporting and comforting the victims of this violent crime. And, it IS a violent crime to advocates and victim-survivors who have lost loved ones, yet in Missouri, and many other states, alcohol-related vehicular assault and manslaughter charges do not fall under the violent crime category thus relegating them to lower sentencing standards. Because of this there is still much more work that needs to be done.
Why we do what we do…
Approximate jail or prison sentences possible in traffic crash deaths caused by alcohol impaired drivers in Missouri: 0 to 15 years. Class C felony: with death to any person––Not more than 7 years and/or not more than $5,000. Class B felony: Death to any person not a passenger, to two or more persons, or while BAC is at least 0.18 ––Not less than 5 years or more than 15 years. MO ST § 565.024. MO ST § 558.011 The typical sentence received by the vast majority charged with Class C felony vehicular manslaughter is 120-days shock incarceration with prison crowding and “first time offender” status sited as a reason. Each day, people drive drunk almost 300,000 times, but fewer than 4,000 are arrested. Federal Bureau of Investigation, “Crime in the United States: 2013” How safe will you feel on the road now? Although MADD can be proud of the progress that has been made, deaths and injuries from alcohol and drugged driving crashes still destroy too many innocent lives. In 2012, in Missouri alone, 214 individuals were killed and 3,510 people were injured in crashes involving a driver with an illegal BAC (.08 or greater). These deaths constitute 26 percent of the 826 total traffic fatalities in Missouri in 2012. (Source: Missouri State Highway Patrol Statewide Fatality Totals)
What MADD does…
In 2015, MADD changed its mission statement to include, “help fight drugged driving” because drugged driving, like drunk driving, is also a choice and a 100% preventable crime, leaving families and hearts broken. MADD Missouri offers support, guidance and information to anyone who has been injured and to surviving family and friends of loved ones who were killed in alcohol-related and drugged driving crashes as well as those impacted by underage drinking. MADD Victim Services addresses, assists and supports people who have been devastated by the physical, emotional and financial impact created by impaired drivers.
MADD Victim and Survivor Services include:
• Providing emotional support
• Providing advocacy in the criminal and civil justice systems
• Accompanying victims/survivors to court
• Assistance preparing a victim impact statement
• Referring victims/survivors to appropriate resources for additional help
• Offering grief support groups in many areas
• Connecting victims/survivors who share similar experiences
• Providing supportive materials
• Providing information about MADD’s 24-hour Victim/ Survivor Help Line
If you are a victim of impaired driving in need of assistance please call 877-MADD-HELP (877-623-3435) to speak with a victim advocate, day or night.
How you can help…
No one chooses to become a victim, but you can choose to always drive sober. It’s that simple. If you are old enough to legally drink then make a plan for how you will safely get home BEFORE you go out. If you are under 21, don’t drink because it is the law and not just a suggestion. Parents play a huge part in determining whether or not their children will make wise decisions concerning alcohol and drugs so start talking now and avoid becoming a tragic statistic.
Join us in our mission to end drunk driving, help fight drugged driving, support the victims of these violent crimes and prevent underage drinking. We are MADD and we help survivors survive.