Contact: Becky Iannotta, becky.iannotta@madd.org

WASHINGTON, D.C. (October 24, 2018) — Children don’t have a voice or a choice when riding with an adult, and yet those entrusted to keep children safe are all too often the same people who put them in danger by driving drunk, according to a new report by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).

“Drunk driving is one of the leading causes of death among our nation’s children. And more than half of children killed in drunk driving crashes are killed by their own drinking driver,” said MADD National President Colleen Sheehey-Church. “Every child deserves a designated driver. Children are our most precious resource and they count on us for love and protection. Sadly, we are losing too many kids in drunk driving crashes.”

MADD is fighting this form of child abuse on several fronts: by working to pass enhanced penalties for anyone who drives drunk with a child passenger, providing direct support to people who know someone driving drunk with kids in the car, and by offering a small source of comfort to children who are understandably frightened and upset when their driver is stopped for suspected drunk driving. Through mid-November at law enforcement agencies across the country, MADD is delivering “Carlie Bears” to give to children who are caught up in someone else’s dangerous choice to drive drunk. Events are taking place at law enforcement agencies in Missouri, Florida, Texas and North Carolina.

“We want to let children in these horrible situations know that someone cares. Someday, we will reach our goal of no child ever needing comfort or protection from a drunk driver,” Sheehey-Church said.

Earlier this year, MADD convened a panel of experts to recommend strategies to stop this inexcusable behavior that often leads to tragedy. After months of reviewing research and existing laws and hearing from other experts in the field, MADD completed its Child Endangerment Report.

Among the recommendations:

  • Adoption of New York’s Leandra’s Law as a model for state statutes
  • Mandatory ignition interlocks for all drunk driving offenders
  • Require prosecutors to submit a formal finding when dismissing a case
  • Mandatory reporting of arrests and use of a central database
  • Laws that penalize for refusing an alcohol test
  • Recognize child endangerment as abuse and require Child Protective Service agency notification
  • Mandatory provision in custody agreements that prohibits drunk driving endangerment with sanctions

All of these recommendations were drawn from the devastating losses of children across America.

“The horrible, devastating stories about so many children whose lives were cut short by a drunk driver inspire MADD to work harder to make needed changes to protect our children,” Sheehey-Church said. “We’ve got to do better for our children and stop this form of child abuse. Currently, only seven states make drunk driving with a child passenger a felony in crashes that do not involve injuries. That’s not good enough. We must pass laws that add penalties for anyone who puts a child’s life at risk by driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.”

For more information about “Carlie Bear” distribution in your area, contact Tom Gill at tom.gill@madd.org. If you, or someone you know drives drunk with children in the car, you can reach out for information and support at 1-877-623-3435 to reach MADD’s 24-Hour Help Line.

About Mothers Against Drunk Driving
Founded in 1980 by a mother whose daughter was killed by a drunk driver, Mothers Against Drunk Driving® (MADD) is the nation’s largest nonprofit working to end drunk driving, help fight drugged driving, support the victims of these violent crimes and prevent underage drinking. MADD has helped to save more than 350,000 lives, reduce drunk driving deaths by more than 50 percent and promote designating a non-drinking driver. MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving® calls for law enforcement support, ignition interlocks for all offenders and advanced vehicle technology. MADD has provided supportive services to nearly one million drunk and drugged driving victims and survivors at no charge through local victim advocates and the 24-Hour Victim Help Line 1-877-MADD-HELP. Visit www.madd.org or call 1-877-ASK-MADD.