By on September 22, 2008

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) is a formidable political force. As you’d expect, the group supports police “sobriety checkpoints,” a .08 blood alcohol content threshhold for drunk driving convictions and ignition interlocks for convicted drunk drivers. As we’ve reported before, the American Beverage Institute (ABI) opposes random roadblocks and believes that the .08 level is set too low. And they’re not happy about ignition interlocks for anyone convicted of drunk driving. Obviously, this means war. MADD has opened a new front in their anti-ABI campaign. A press release names ABI members and completely mis-characterizes the trade group’s position on drink driving (“ABI’s consistent stand is that America’s drunk driving laws are too strict and should not be enforced) and intimates that ALL “family restaurants” (quotation marks theirs) should quit the organization. “The American public wants to know why these so called ‘family-friendly’ restaurants appear to be putting alcohol profits ahead of public safety,” said Laura Dean-Mooney, national president of MADD. “We call upon these restaurants to explain to the public why they oppose laws proven to keep drunk drivers off the road or, preferably, to support these life-saving measures.” Ends. Means. Justification?

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64 Comments on “MADD vs. ABI...”


  • avatar
    enderw88

    If I walked into a McDonald’s and sprayed the place down with an AK-47, but by sheer dumb luck did NOT hit anyone I would still go to jail for a long time. Even the NRA would not be chipping in to my legal defense fund. I see very little difference between using the Kalashnikov and driving drunk. Go MADD.

  • avatar
    jaje

    Seems we have politicians in training…argue their extremes and misstate the opponent in order to finally meet in the middle. Why do we have to resolve things with so much conflict versus collaboration?

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Much as MADD’s operations sometimes leave me cold, the goal is hard to dispute. Drinking and driving is against the law and there’s a good reason for it.

    There’s no circumstance where, if you blow or test above the limit, that it’s somehow ok, and self-regulating at the place of service is just not going to work; there’s no way that you can guarantee that some poor schmuck bouncer, waiter or bartender is going to pull the keys from a driver-to-be, especially if said driver is aggressive or otherwise unforthcoming.

    If (big if) you could station an officer at every bar, or pass a law that allow bars to take patron’s keys when the arrive and not return them for 24 hours, then I could see the need for roadblocks to go away outside of holidays

    But on, say, New Year’s Eve? No way.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    The role of impaired and drunk drivers in traffic accidents and fatalities, fed by lobbyists, police, insurance and courts that profit from the drunk driving industry, is greatly exaggerated. One death or injury is too many, but inventing bogeymen does not address the real issues of traffic safety.

    Every traffic accident investigation report form has a check box to indicate if drinking alcohol was involved in the accident. A “yes” gets trotted out when the industry needs to prove a point or wants more funding. The result is the conveniently astonishing statistic drinking alcohol is involved in more than 45-percent of traffic accidents. It frequently morphs into newspaper headlines, particularly around Christmas, that drunk drivers cause 45-percent of fatalities. But “involved” is not the same as “causing”.

    No one has invented a handy machine like the Breathalyser Blood Alcohol Measurement Device that easily, economically and profitably measures legal or illegal drugs in a driver’s bloodstream, or how much sleep he had the night before, or if he was distracted by a work or family problem, or angry. Nor is there a place to note these factors that cause the majority of accidents. There is no interest because there is no money in it.

    Few people are actually impaired at .08 blood alcohol content. Large people and those with a tolerance for drinking alcohol are not impaired at 1.6. Twenty years ago, before government arbitrarily decreed driving with a .08 blood alcohol content reading is an offense, a 1.6 blood alcohol reading was considered “borderline impaired”. The reading required a field sobriety test that offered solid evidence of physical impairment to secure a conviction.

    A 30-year policeman told me he arrested about 25 genuinely impaired drivers and one drunk driver in his career. The rest were guilty of .08, but were neither impaired nor drunk!

  • avatar
    toxicroach

    Why not ignition interlocks for everyone?

    Because sometimes DUI’s are mostly horseshit.

    I know of one guy who was convicted b/c he was drunk, asleep in his car, and had turned the car on to provide heat on a cold night. That is enough to be a DUI even though the vehicle was never in motion.

    Or another guy who got a bit sloshed at the golf course, and a cop pulled him over in his golf cart as he crossed from the front to back nine (over a public road).

    Not every DUI is a case of a drunken jerk putting people at risk. Sometimes its cops being overzealous. Zero tolerance policies try to turn everything into black and white, and that always leads to ridiculous things like students being suspended for having a nail clipper at school (it’s a weapon, don’t ya know).

  • avatar
    allythom

    Gardiner Westbound:”More, a 1.6 blood alcohol reading was then considered “borderline impaired”. The reading was insufficient to secure a conviction. It required a field sobriety test that offered solid evidence of physical impairment. Few people are actually impaired at .08 blood alcohol content. Large people and those who have developed a tolerance for drinking alcohol are not even impaired at 1.6″

    That’s 20 times the current legal limit. There’s no way anyone can drink 20 glasses of wine and drive safely (I wouldn’t be able to walk safely). Are you sure you have your decimal places right ?

  • avatar
    NulloModo

    I am sure everyone can agree that drunk driving is a bad thing, I think, however, the ABI’s stand is more about where to draw the lines.

    I remember the limit used to be .10 or even .12 or .15 in places, but it is now pretty much .08 nationwide. How much is too much? It is hard to say, any variable limits depending on the location and amount of traffic might make sense (.08 in urban locales like LA or NYC, but .12 in rural areas where traffic density is much lower).

    I dislike roadblocks simply because they jam up traffic and cause delays, but from a preventative standpoint their efficacy is hard to ignore. Obviously waiting for someone to cause an accident is taking it too far in the other extreme, but meeting in the middle and having officers stationed in certain areas specifically watching for people driving erratically could strike a happy medium.

  • avatar

    So, am I supposed to be up in arms at MADD now? I don’t get it. I must say I think it’s pretty disgusting that the ABI is lobbying for loosening restrictions on drunk driving – it’s another case of greedy business owners acting against the public interest in order to increase profits. There are no ethics in business, anyone who argues that corporations act within a moral code is a fool. The honest, bottom-line fact is that the ABI would lobby hard to get rid of all drunk driving penalties if they didn’t think they would be pilloried for doing so. These are not ethical people, these are not positive societal actors, these are greedy, money-grubbing profiteers who would happily make money from the death of you or your children if there was a way to do so without being prosecuted.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    It is hard to say, any variable limits depending on the location and amount of traffic might make sense (.08 in urban locales like LA or NYC, but .12 in rural areas where traffic density is much lower).

    I disagree. In either setting, someone could make an error and either hurt themselves, or someone else. The chance is lower, but it’s still there. If you’re not fit to drive on a city street at 50km/h, you’re not fit to drive at higher speeds on an open road. I grew up in a rural area, and we lost a few kids a year in school to this.

    I have a bit of a bias on this issue: in high school I made a tidy profit operating a “drunk bus” out of my van for fellow students. I didn’t tend to drink much at the time (because I had a bleeding ulcer off and on for a few years) and it gave me an unparalleled opportunity to see what my friends thought was “not too drunk to drive”.

    In short: people are stupid, and their ability to discern how stupid they are gets worse with every drink. For every story of statistical inflation (sleeping in a car, not effectively impaired at 0.08), I can probably cite examples of some friends who got home safe by pure luck. I personally missed getting clocked by a drunk by a few inches (he ended up in the ditch, which I suppose is lucky) so I have remarkably little tolerance.

    I’m sure that traffic stops are an inconvenience (I’ve been pulled over every New Year’s since I started driving) but until drunk drivers magically start showing some responsibility for their actions, I don’t foresee them going away. Driving a car involves participating in a shared system, where the privilege of driving comes with obligations to your fellow drivers.

    What ABI wants (or doesn’t want) is it’s sales curtailed. What MADD wants (again, I have issues with the methods, not the goal) is zero deaths due to impaired drivers. I think that lends a little more credence to MADD.

  • avatar
    EEGeek

    I remember the limit used to be .10 or even .12 or .15 in places, but it is now pretty much .08 nationwide.

    That’s because of federal legislation passed in 2001 that withholds federal money from the states that don’t kowtow to the new standard. From http://transcripts.cnn.com/2000/ALLPOLITICS/stories/10/06/congress.highway/

    As approved, states that fail to adopt the standard would lose 2 percent of highway trust fund money in 2004, 4 percent in 2005, 6 percent in 2006 and 8 percent in 2007 and beyond. If states adopt the 0.08 standard by 2007, they would get back all of the funds lost in previous years.

    I’m certainly not in favor of drunks slaughtering innocents on the highway with impugnity, but this sort of federal mandate (which happens all the time) really grinds my gears.

  • avatar
    sean362880

    MADD needs a new name. Do mothers have exclusive rights to being anti-drunk driving? Are only mothers affected by those injured in drink-related crashes? I think it strains the group’s credibility, making them come across as overprotective well, mothers, scolding their children to stop playing with knives.

    NulloModo – “…but meeting in the middle and having officers stationed in certain areas specifically watching for people driving erratically could strike a happy medium.”

    How about near a bar at closing time?

  • avatar
    Stephan Wilkinson

    And the excuse for driving while impaired is? “Well, I was only a little impaired.” “I didn’t mean it.” “I’ve never done it before.”

    The limit should be 0.00, and I say that as a recreational drinker. I also think that text messagers while driving should have their licenses suspended the first time and revoked the second.

  • avatar
    Detroit-Iron

    I never hear anything from MADD about increasing the penalties for multiple offenses or being intoxicated at multiples of the legal limit. All I ever hear from them is backdoor prohibition and the shredding of due process and the fourth and fifth amendments.

  • avatar
    jpc0067

    The ABI reminds me a lot of ABATE. They are arguing from an indefensible point, IMO. At least, I have a hard time even approaching the ABI’s position. That’s evidence to MADD’s 20 years of brilliantly staying on message and greasing the right palms with their PAC. While they are shrill, the are a successful model of how to turn grass roots into a political organization. Not only have they changes the laws, they’ve completely changed the argument.

  • avatar
    Detroit-Iron

    @gardiner

    Either you or the article you are quoting has it’s decimal place wrong. 0.40 is sufficient to cause death in all but a few of the hardiest eastern europeans. I believe that should be 0.16, which is twice the current legal limit. That being said, if anyone on this board think they can drive better or even more safely sober than Schumacher could after blowing a 0.08, vastly overestimates his or her ability.

  • avatar
    NulloModo

    Detroit-Iron – You have a good point.

    Someone who shoplifts a CD gets charged very differently from someone who steals a car. Both are theft, but the law recognizes that one is more severe and requires greater punishment.

    However, someone who gets caught with a .085 BAC gets the same (oftentimes debilitating both fiscally and professionally) punishment as someone who gets caught after passing out at the wheel with a .35 BAC and running into a ditch.

    If the limits are going to be lowered this much first offenders who didn’t cause an accident should have more of a ‘slap on the wrist’ type of punishment, maybe involving mandatory classes or public service, but without any permanant record of their misjudgement. Offenders who flagrantly break the regulations, or who cause accidents, or who are repeat offenders, should have much stiffer penalties.

  • avatar

    Somebody needs to stand up to MADD and start drawing a line, and I applaud the ABI for doing so. MADD has perverted the laws to transform enforcement into a very intrusive, almost totalitarian force. They have inserted themselves into every facet of Government control of driving since they represent an easy win for pandering politicians. I was unaware of this until my eldest son started learning to drive and I discovered that “Drivers Education” these days has become essentially a semester of MADD Propaganda. Very little about Driving. All about Drunk Driving. It has gotten so bad that the Driver’s Written Test in my State (Washington) is basically a MADD questionnaire. Every other question is about DUI laws and very little is about DRIVING.

    This is patently absurd. But NOBODY so far has the balls to stand up to these extreme Nanny State Ninnys Known As Mothers Against Drunk Driving. They have already assumed power at the State level and will not relinquish control.

    MADD wants us all to believe that there is wholesale slaughter happening on our roads. The reality is nowhere near that. They forget that Laws are there to punish those who inflict damage to property and harm to individuals, NOT punish those who MIGHT do so.

    Once you surrender Rights, it is very hard to get them back.

    So go ahead MADD, publish the list of places aligned with ABI. I need to plan my future purchases.

    –chuck

  • avatar
    yankinwaoz

    When I moved to Australia I have to say that I was impressed with their DUI laws. They are tough. But they recognize that there are levels of intoxication.

    What never made sense to me in the US is that there is 1 limit, 0.08. Under it, you are fine. Over it, you are a mass-murdering bastard. The full weight of the law is thrown at you, even if you blow .081.

    What they have are 3 levels, starting at .05, with increasing punishment. For example, blowing .06 is like speeding.

    Anyhow, I wish we had more common sense about this. Why don’t we punish people who talk on cell phones while driving as much as DUIs? They are just as dangerous.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    That’s 20 times the current legal limit. There’s no way anyone can drink 20 glasses of wine and drive safely (I wouldn’t be able to walk safely). Are you sure you have your decimal places right ? – allythom

    It reflects differing reporting methodologies. A 1.6 Breathalyser reading equates to 0.16% BrAC. A hospital lab result would indicate 160 parts per one hundred thousand (0.16%) and report it as 160.

  • avatar

    In my opinion, it is an odd thing to take a stance supporting the apparently perceived right to drink and drive. Cars are an enormous responsibility; they are 3,000+ lb. missiles traveling at deadly speeds. That we are allowed to pilot these machines, from the age of 16 on, with very few exceptions, boggles the mind (something that often occurs to me when I’m on my motorcycle on the freeway, passing carfuls of teens bopping to garbage music and geriatrics barely able to hold their heads up while driving a humongous DTS).

    Why do people think we should be allowed to hop into our cars and fly around on public roads regardless of how much we’ve had to drink? I’ve known drunk drivers – they’re generally both assured of their ability to drive home after they wobble out to their cars and indignant that the government might dare try to keep them off the roads. People are always so damn sure that they’re a better driver than everyone else, so they should be allowed to drive a little drunker than the other guy. Drunk drivers are a menace, plain and simple, no matter if they’re F1 drivers or CEOs. They shouldn’t be allowed on the roads for the same reason that people aren’t allowed to discharge firearms in crowded public places – even if you’re a great driver or a crack shot, things can go disastrously wrong.

    I hereby, forever and ever and into perpetuity, happily surrender my “right” do drink and drive, just as I surrender my “right” to carry a shotgun into a school or my “right” to slap my wife around a little when she gets mouthy. Driving drunk isn’t a civil liberty I care to defend.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    They forget that Laws are there to punish those who inflict damage to property and harm to individuals, NOT punish those who MIGHT do so.

    So, we shouldn’t arrest terrorists until they actually fly a plane into a building, then?

  • avatar
    USAFMech

    @ kazoomaloo: I whole-heartedly agree with your first paragraph.

    Regarding your third paragraph: you sure know how to take the fun out of life.

  • avatar
    bluecon

    We need DAMM(Drunks Against Mad Mothers) to weigh in on this.

  • avatar
    dragoniv

    Gardiner Westbound: Few people are actually impaired at .08 blood alcohol content. Large people and those with a tolerance for drinking alcohol are not impaired at 1.6. Twenty years ago, before government arbitrarily decreed driving with a .08 blood alcohol content reading is an offense, a 1.6 blood alcohol reading was considered “borderline impaired”.

    0.8BAC causes the same impairment in a 60lb person as it does in a 200lb person–it’s just that it takes more alcohol for the 200lb person to get there.

    Ignoring the fact that your decimal point is in the wrong place, 0.16BAC is way beyond intoxicated by any measure. Perhaps you’ve missed out on the studies that show reaction time loss at various levels of intoxication? Let me know, I can point you to several.

    If you think driving drunk statistics are grossly inflated, try driving after-hours for a while–especially after the bars close at night. I play hockey late at night on the weekends, and I come across 2-3 obviously drunk folks each time, and some nights even more. That’s just the smashed folk–imagine how many more are only partially degraded, and have a significantly increased chance of causing an accident.

    yankinwaoz–some states do have various levels of intoxication punishment. In New York, DWAI is 0.05 to 0.07. DWI kicks in at 0.08. If you’re underage, anything over 0.02 gets you in trouble.

  • avatar
    Robstar

    Not sure about you guys, but if I have 2, 12-16oz beers over an hour I don’t feel comfortable driving. I can tell the alcohol is having an effect on me. I am 5’11″, 200 pounds.

    Needless to say, I don’t drink much. 2 beers in a week is high for me. I always offer to drive if I go out with friends to a bar.

    If I am riding my motorcycle, I won’t have any alcohol, period. It boggles me to see a row+ of harleys in front of a bar…I can’t imagine going to a bar, planning on drinking and riding home.

    On a more pleasant note, I found out last year that if you go to see the Chicago bulls play at home & go to the customer service department near one (some?) of the entrances and state you are the designated driver for the night, they will give you a small redeemable ticket for a large soda for free. Sweet!

  • avatar
    blautens

    In our county, we actually publish the locations and times of DUI road blocks (excuse me, sometimes we called them “Safety Checks”).

    So anyone who gets popped for a DUI at those should really be jailed for being stupid and drunk, not just drunk. Unfortunately, even though being stupid was a contributing factor in 95% of the arrests I made, there wasn’t an actual state statute specifically outlawing it.

    And as an ex-cop, I can tell you that stupidity was far more dangerous than alcohol (although stupidity usually invited alchohol to whatever “party” I was about to be invited to).

    So rather than a machine that tests your breath before the car starts, if we could just be allowed to administer intelligence tests before people were allowed to procreate, I’m pretty sure we could stop most problems before they started, not just the DUI problem.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    MADD isn’t a driving safety organization, but a modern version of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union. It’s a campaign against alcohol, with a no-holds barred approach to law enforcement that does nothing to improve traffic safety.

    If you study the data, it becomes clear that your average tippler who has a couple of drinks is not who is causing DUI accidents. Rather, it is hard-core drinkers who get completely wasted and who drive well above the legal limit. They tend to be repeat offenders, have conspicuous drinking problems and may not even be licensed.

    There are only so much law enforcement resources to go around. When the cops and court system spend their time targeting the .08 driver who is unlikely to cause a serious accident, that is time that could have instead devoted to targeting the .15+ driver who is a real threat to other drivers.

    It would make more sense to create a tier of BAC levels that can account for the severity of the offense. For example, lower BAC levels could be reclassified as “wet reckless” offenses, that don’t involve arrest, jail or considerable court time, but that are retroactively upgraded to full DUI’s if there is a subsequent conviction within a certain period of time. This would speed up the processing time and keep more cops on the road who can stay on the lookout for the seriously intoxicated drivers who are a danger to society.

    The current DUI laws are not reducing fatalities. This is a strong hint that the laws are flawed. Low BAC’s are just as ineffective as low speed limits in promoting safety, but unfortunately, it has become impossible to mention this fact without looking like a crazed baby killer. MADD has stigmatized the very act of debate, which suggests that it is a good propagandist but not particularly good for democracy.

  • avatar
    Maeloch

    I don’t like alcohol, and I have only had two whole drinks in my entire life. I personally don’t have to worry about DUI laws. I don’t think that you should drive if you have had anything to drink.

    However, I don’t agree with having checkpoints (“May I zee your papers, please”), and I think that the .08 limit is too low. The number of lives saved by getting people between .08 and .10 is negligible, while it has caused untold disruption to thousands of people’s lives.

    When the government lowers some arbitrary limit that does nothing other than increase the number of people who break the law, it causes more problems than it solves. How many people with BAC .20 drive by the police officer while he is busy processing the person who is at .08?

  • avatar
    carlisimo

    My only issue with MADD is that now you can blow a 0.04 but at the cop’s discretion you can still get a DUI and the months of loss of license and $10,000 insurance hike that goes along with it. Even at 0.08, the penalties you get are totally out of proportion with the crime. I’m not trying to defend driving under a little bit of influence. It’s a bad thing, and should be punished. But driving with a cell phone to your head gets you a $100 ticket and driving after one drink can cost you tens of thousands… that’s ridiculous. Ruining people isn’t going to help them!

    Make a conviction that harsh if it’s your second. But so many people would be much more careful in the future with just a several hundred dollar ticket and the shame of a mandatory court appearance. The only people that wouldn’t work with are the ones who rack up half a dozen DUI’s… for whom the current laws clearly aren’t sufficient.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    …if we could just be allowed to administer intelligence tests before people were allowed to procreate, I’m pretty sure we could stop most problems before they started, not just the DUI problem.

    Off-topic, but your point reminded me of something I find sort of interesting:

    Friends of ours who are gay and trying to adopt a child have said more or less the same thing: “Why is it that we have to go through six feet of paperwork, but all straight people need to do is f_ck.”. They’re amazed that they have to prove that they’re angels walking the earth, but most any heterosexual can manage the trick no matter how much of a waste they are.

    I’d have to agree with them, sometimes. Especially after seeing how some people treat their children.

    What’s even scarier is that, statisically, stupid people start breeding sooner and in greater numbers.

  • avatar
    Stephan Wilkinson

    There’s such a simple solution to everybody’s problems with cops, stops, roadblocks, alcohol levels, MADD…don’t drink if you’re going to drive.

    Presto.

  • avatar
    sitting@home

    Considering the profit gained in every alcoholic drink served and the loss produced by $1 kiddie menus, I wonder how many “family restaurants” would go to the wall if they stopped serving booze. I imagine the end result of any puritanical legislature by MADD aimed at such establishments would be more bars that served food and less places their ADD cherubs could run around scribbling with crayolas on the tablecloths.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    There’s such a simple solution to everybody’s problems with cops, stops, roadblocks, alcohol levels, MADD…don’t drink if you’re going to drive.

    That sounds terrific, but in practice, this position is impossible to implement in an effective manner. It’s a sound bite that goes nowhere.

    The arguments in favor of these low limits are based upon emotion, rather than the accident data. These legal priorities based upon emotion are killing people, instead of saving them. If the laws produce the opposite result of what is desirable, then the law is part of the problem.

  • avatar

    I have no personal knowledge of whether MADD is as PCH101 says, or how much current laws are doing (or not) to reduce mayhem. But I’m inclined to think there should be a graded system as he advocates. I would love to have a meter to carry around which would tell me what my level is. I almost never get more than one shot, and if I feel at all impaired, I have my date drive (which I would do regardless of what the meter said), but I would like to know.

    # Pch101 :
    MADD isn’t a driving safety organization, but a modern version of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union. It’s a campaign against alcohol, with a no-holds barred approach to law enforcement that does nothing to improve traffic safety.

    If you study the data, it becomes clear that your average tippler who has a couple of drinks is not who is causing DUI accidents. Rather, it is hard-core drinkers who get completely wasted and who drive well above the legal limit. They tend to be repeat offenders, have conspicuous drinking problems and may not even be licensed.

    There are only so much law enforcement resources to go around. When the cops and court system spend their time targeting the .08 driver who is unlikely to cause a serious accident, that is time that could have instead devoted to targeting the .15+ driver who is a real threat to other drivers.

    It would make more sense to create a tier of BAC levels that can account for the severity of the offense. For example, lower BAC levels could be reclassified as “wet reckless” offenses, that don’t involve arrest, jail or considerable court time, but that are retroactively upgraded to full DUI’s if there is a subsequent conviction within a certain period of time. This would speed up the processing time and keep more cops on the road who can stay on the lookout for the seriously intoxicated drivers who are a danger to society.

    The current DUI laws are not reducing fatalities. This is a strong hint that the laws are flawed. Low BAC’s are just as ineffective as low speed limits in promoting safety, but unfortunately, it has become impossible to mention this fact without looking like a crazed baby killer. MADD has stigmatized the very act of debate, which suggests that it is a good propagandist but not particularly good for democracy.

  • avatar
    GS650G

    DUI convictions are profitable. Thousands in fees, court costs, insurance rates, and the cast of social workers laying out government programs around the whole mess.

    A real cure would be to simply take the license forever and forbid the offender from operating a motor vehicle again. Top it off with a year in jail for violating this order and there you go.

    But it’s the money that matters most. Make no mistake about it. While there is a practical side to the cash, there is incentive to abuse the authority.

  • avatar
    snabster

    Something like 45% of fatal accidents “involve” alcohol, although that is not the same thing as saying alcohol is the cause.

    Something like 70% of fatal accidents involve not wearing a seat belt. Another 60% involve excessive speed. A majority of accidents occur after midnight. If you’re a male under 30 you cause 30% of accidents. Most drunk drivers kill themselves by driving off the road. Also, a majority of fatal accidents occur on rural roads.

    I’ve read that it is estimated that 1 in 10 drivers at night is legally drunks. However, I suspect that the real causes of FATAL accidents are much more complicated.

    MADD might have a point if it looked at the accidents involving injuries. With safer cars, an accident that would be fatal in 1976 you can now walk away from. Also, medical science has improved to where a previously fatal accident is not an injury.

    In any case, MADD is anti-alcohol — not anti-car. Yet.

  • avatar
    GS650G

    Friends of ours who are gay and trying to adopt a child have said more or less the same thing: “Why is it that we have to go through six feet of paperwork, but all straight people need to do is f_ck.”. They’re amazed that they have to prove that they’re angels walking the earth, but most any heterosexual can manage the trick no matter how much of a waste they are.

    Simple biology answers this question, but of course if straight people want to adopt, what do your gay friends think happens to them? Same thing, same costs.

  • avatar
    bunkie

    I never drink and drive. Period. I have no problem whatsoever self-regulating in this regard.

    But I have found myself on the other side of MADD more than once. Checkpoints smack of totalitarianism. They have opened the door to a large number of abuses by the state. They abuse their authority (mothers must know better, after all) and their actions have led to a whole host of legal situations where judges have their hands tied because “zero tolerance” has become the watchword of the day. In the end, it erodes respect for the law and that is a very dangerous thing.

    The prisons are full, we are losing our civil rights, anyone unfortunate to be on the receiving end of draconian “justice” when it is not really served has a hell of a time living in a society where your “scores” follow you around and, since they’re in black and white, must be incontrovertably true.

    Yes, drunk driving is bad (that’s why I don’t do it). But losing our rights is worse.

  • avatar
    arapaima

    I love the fact that my friend showed me that I could in fact blow over .4 on a breathalyzer by using mouthwash. While not exactly applicable to most, it should scare some under 21 drivers who’s states take their license for blowing anything.

  • avatar
    whatdoiknow1

    If you drive drunk and kill my child do you now believe I have the right to go to your home and murder one of your children as retribution?

    If not than STFU and let MADD do their job!

  • avatar
    Dr. D

    Obviously we can see both sides. Problem is what is more important: convenience? profit? pleasure? or a human life?

    One thing I know for hard and sure fact. I have been involved in 5 auto accidents. Want to know whose fault and whether alcohol was involved. None were my fault and all were caused by an inebriated driver. Bogeyman maybe, but not in my world.

    Being responsible to others is part and parcel of being human on this planet. The general public should not be subjected to the irresponsible attacks of the inebriated-especially when it is already illegal.

  • avatar

    whatdoiknow1 :

    I understand your anger. But may I suggest you read some of the links in the article? There are two sides to this story. At least.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Yes, drunk driving is bad (that’s why I don’t do it). But losing our rights is worse.

    I’d like to see you say that to a bereaved family-member of a victim. I dearly would.

    Driving is a privilege, not a right. If you cannot live up to your responsibilities as a holder of said privilege, you do not get to keep it.

    I understand your anger. But may I suggest you read some of the links in the article? There are two sides to this story. At least.

    I think the issue is that ABI does see MADD’s efforts as, in some ways, curtailing their members’ revenue and wants restrictions lifted. MADD’s take is “If it saves a life, it’s worth it”. I tend to agree with MADD on this one.

    The problem is, how reasonable is reasonable? As ABI points out, 0.08 may not be functionally impaired for all drivers, but that it might be for some–and those for whom it is are not guaranteed to act on it. Never mind that a large amount of the problem drinking doesn’t happen in licensed establishments and that roadblocks really are the only way to, tactically, get these people off the road.

    Again, ABI’s issue is that if you scare off enough people from drinking and driving, they wont drink.

  • avatar
    chuckR

    Locally, some of the most egregious cases of driving drunkards injuring or killing people have involved people who are already far over the limit of 0.08. If 0.08 doesn’t deter them, what makes anyone think 0.06 or 0.04 will?
    MADD has lost its way. Stricter laws without graduated enforcement will accomplish little. MADD would be better off spending time lobbying for enforcement than lobbying for stricter laws with less likelihood of enforcement. Is MADD in the neo-Prohibition business or the business of reducing deaths caused by drunkards?

  • avatar
    geeber

    Pch101: If you study the data, it becomes clear that your average tippler who has a couple of drinks is not who is causing DUI accidents. Rather, it is hard-core drinkers who get completely wasted and who drive well above the legal limit. They tend to be repeat offenders, have conspicuous drinking problems and may not even be licensed.

    Exactly. When I read accident reports in the local paper, the drunk drivers inevitably have a above blood alcohol content (BAC) of 1.5 or above. It’s not the person who has one or two drinks who is is going out and mowing down innocents. Arresting and prosecuting them is a waste of law-enforcement time and resources.

    psharjinian: They’re amazed that they have to prove that they’re angels walking the earth, but most any heterosexual can manage the trick no matter how much of a waste they are.

    It’s not any easier for heterosexual couples to adopt. Do you really believe that couples walk into the adoption agency and walk out with a child the same day just because they are straight? My friends who have adopted children can cure you of this notion.

  • avatar
    noreserve

    Lots of good anti-MADD stuff here:

    http://www.alcoholfacts.org/CrashCourseOnMADD.html

    Here’s one excerpt.

    The founding president of MADD, Candy Lightner, left in disgust from the organization that she herself created because of its change in goals. “It has become far more neo-prohibitionist than I ever wanted or envisioned,” she says. “I didn’t start MADD to deal with alcohol. I started MADD to deal with the issue of drunk driving.” 5 Ms. Lightner has emphasized the importance of distinguishing between alcohol and drinking on one hand and drunk driving on the other. 6

    Ms. Lightner has apparently put her finger on the problem when she says that if MADD really wants to save lives, it will go after the real problem drivers. 7

    Just basically confirms what many have thought for years – that MADD has morphed from a public awareness campaign into a huge PAC that won’t be happy until they achieve a total ban on alcohol. Ignition interlocks, roadblocks, you name it. If they were to achieve that goal, they’d move on to something else. You can bet that they won’t say they’ve made their impact and pack up and go away.

    These .08-type limits are an arbitrary way to enforce a penalty before a problem has actually occurred. Sort of like Minority Report. You had the potential to do something, so we’re going to smack you with the same penalty as we would if you actually did it.

    Don’t get me started on the whole minimum drinking age thing that, surprise surprise, MADD is also against changing. It’s all arbitrary bullshit. MADD is simply a too-powerful “cure” in search of a problem.

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    MADD started out with a clear cut mission, which was to pressure the judicial system to enforce existing laws with regard to the drunks who were no longer able to walk, much less drive. I ran out of patience with them when they opposed repeal of the national speed limit.

    I also question the mantra, “Don’t drink and drive.” If it is intended to mean, “Don’t drive after an evening of continuous drinking”, I agree. But not if it is intended to apply to one glass of wine or a 12 ounce beer with dinner.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    MADD started out with a clear cut mission, which was to pressure the judicial system to enforce existing laws with regard to the drunks who were no longer able to walk, much less drive.

    MADD’s mission was to stop drinking and driving, because obviously it wasn’t going to stop itself. Before MADD, the problem was systemic, and the message wasn’t getting through. By forcing a low limit and zero-tolerance enforcement, the problem is pretty much gone.

    Watch an episode of “Mad Men”. It’s enlightening–and terrifying–to realize that people like that were (are?) on the road.

    I also question the mantra, “Don’t drink and drive.” If it is intended to mean, “Don’t drive after an evening of continuous drinking”, I agree. But not if it is intended to apply to one glass of wine or a 12 ounce beer with dinner.

    That’s not really MADD’s problem. If people could exercise that kind of judgment, we wouldn’t have the issue. But as the statistics note, they can’t. People, taken as a group, not on an individual level, have trouble with grey areas like this. They need a simplistic message, not a complex one.

    And credit where credit’s due, the simple message is working. Casual drinking and driving is way, way down.

    I agree that MADD has gotten off-base (the recent stupidity over GTA4 was enlightening), but don’t hate the message because you don’t like the messenger.

    I’d like to see the police take a harder line on offenders, myself. Obviously, license suspension doesn’t work, and prison sentences don’t work. I’m starting to think seizure and sale of assets (like, oh, an offender’s car) is starting to sound reasonable.

  • avatar

    Why are so many people saying the .08 limit and drinking age are “arbitrary?” This seems to be a word that is thrown around to try to automatically discredit the limits without doing any research. I really don’t think, when establishing the BAC limit at .08, a bunch of guys got together, looked at each other, and said, “Uhhhhh, idunno, how about .08 or somethin’?”

    Same goes for the drinking age. Unless someone can give me good proof that these numbers are arbitrarily arrived at via capricious eeney-meeney-miney-moe’ery I’m going to call party foul on that claim.

  • avatar
    geeber

    psharjinian: That’s not really MADD’s problem.

    Yes it is MADD’s problem, because a look at their agenda and what they have advocated shows an intent to make a criminal out of the person who has one or two drinks.

    psharjinian: If people could exercise that kind of judgment, we wouldn’t have the issue. But as the statistics note, they can’t.

    The statistics show that majority of the people who are involved in drunk driving accidents are hard-core drunks. They are driving with blood alcohol content levels of as much as 2.0.

    A person doesn’t reach that level after one or two drinks, unless he or she is filling up a Big Gulp cup with vodka.

    psharjinian: I agree that MADD has gotten off-base (the recent stupidity over GTA4 was enlightening), but don’t hate the message because you don’t like the messenger.

    View the criticism as an attempt to get the messenger back on track.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    By forcing a low limit and zero-tolerance enforcement, the problem is pretty much gone.

    The statistics suggest that this is blatantly false.

  • avatar
    ihatetrees

    Stephan Wilkinson:
    The limit should be 0.00, and I say that as a recreational drinker. I also think that text messagers while driving should have their licenses suspended the first time and revoked the second.

    There’s a saying: “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” I’ll agree to your 0.00 limit if you agree to the same penalties for

    – anyone who works a labor intensive double shift (16 hours). They should be REQUIRED to take a cab home.
    – anyone taking anti-depressants.
    – roadside blood testing for EVERY accident. Get the potheads, the oxi-addicts, AND the drunks.

    But, of course, NONE of the above will happen. Because in the real world, a confused senior citizen can mow down a dozen+ people at a farmers market and get probation.

    MADD started off in the right direction, but have become neo-prohibitionist and unfocused. Pch101 has a point. The problem is NOT 0.08 drinkers. It’s habitual drunks and dangerous drivers. Hell, I think the state of NY doesn’t even consider multiple misdemeanor ability impaired convictions (0.05 to 0.08) upgradable.

    Why doesn’t MADD focus on jailing career drunks? Maybe because that costs money (and earns them nothing).

  • avatar
    bunkie

    I’d like to see you say that to a bereaved family-member of a victim. I dearly would.

    Why should this even be a question? Are the feelings of a bereaved family more important than the rights we hold dear? I would argue that, instead, one should explain to the families of our soldiers who died defending those rights that their losses were pissed away by people who didn’t value them.

    I have every sympathy for victims. As I said earlier that’s why I don’t drink and drive. But this elevation of victims to some sort of extra-deserving status is a sickness that will eventually kill our society.

  • avatar
    joeaverage

    I hope some of you have a chance to go to an accident scene where the bodies were still scattered about, blood, and sobbing relatives.

    MADD may have gotten a little distracted but the message that they started with is still entirely valid – don’t drink and drive. Drink if you like but do it at home or someplace where you can walk home or where somebody else will get you home safely.

    I did the military police gig for a while and went to some fatalities. It was to me soul jarring. In most cases it was a simple mistake that led to the crash but there were many contributing factors – speed, poor condition of the vehicle, poor driving skills, or alcohol. Somebody cut somebody else off and everyone got tangled. Drunk hit the center rail and then pinballed down the road taking out another car. Something like that. In every case (what few I went to) it was an accident that wasted a life. Decisions were made that took a life – not physics, not metallurgy, or the weather. It was so clear that it didn’t have to turn out like that.

    Simple changes of their behavior would have prevented them from getting into an accident like that. They could drive slower, more distance between them and the other cars, better equipment or slower speeds until they got their vehicle fixed up better.

    When I was about eight years old I witnessed an old man try to drive away from my grand parents house (all the old folks that day were drunk and all the old folks didn’t think a thing about driving drunk). He totaled out two vehicles right there in front of me. 100 feet away. Fortunately nobody was killed and the other driver walked away but he was worse off of course and without a car. A month or two later that drunk was out again without a thought to other people’s safety.

    Keep the laws the way they are and strengthen the penalties. Seizing vehicles is a great start. So is mandatory jail sentences for second time offenders. Yes it’s going to rock their world financially but if that is what it takes to keep somebody’s wife and kids alive then so be it. Okay the kids are going to pay a price but they’ll learn something from it too.

    Plan ahead drinkers! Nothing says you can’t spend the night drinking at your friend’s house – and sleep there. Nothing says you can’t tie one on at your house. However, if you go out, then you don’t need to be driving home after more than about two drinks – period. I don’t care what that does to the restaurant businesses. Maybe it is time for them to figure out some virgin drink recipes that are more exciting than the alcoholic ones or restrict sales to two drinks to everyone.

    And FWIW we stay at home on the nights where the drunks are likely to be out in force.

    Lastly I would have no problem with anti-cellphone or texting laws. The first ones they will have to “convert” though are the local law enforcement b/c I see them using a phone while driving 95%+ of the time.

    I don’t own a cellphone. I use my wife’s about once or twice a month, never while driving.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Keep the laws the way they are and strengthen the penalties. Seizing vehicles is a great start. So is mandatory jail sentences for second time offenders.

    We do not have the police force or the jail space required to impose such a plan.

    Draconian enforcement doesn’t work. The only way to make such a plan work is to create a police state that does away with all the niceties of the criminal justice system.

    An intelligently managed democracy figures out how to harness human behavior to its advantage, while deploying its resources effectively. Targeting the casual drinker as Public Enemy Number One is disproportionate and extreme.

    By playing to emotions, instead of logic, we end up with unenforceable laws that don’t even fix the problem that they intended to cure. Not only is the cure worse than the disease, but it doesn’t even cure anything.

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    Novel idea….license both drinking and driving….that way, anyone caught doing both can be prevented from doing both, at least from buying alcohol or being served in a pub….and anyone.

  • avatar
    dhanson865

    I’d like to see drinking age lowered back to 18.

    1. Why should an 18 year old be allowed to vote and serve in the military but not be allowed to drink? I’m not talking about military ID being allowed to drink. I’m talking about the age equivalency. Why should someone that is eligible to do one not be eligible to do the other?

    2. Why should insurance premiums be based on age because of the statistics and BAC limits not follow the statistics?

    In the same comparison to auto insurance, I’d also like to see age bracketed BAC limits:

    under 18 BAC limit is 0.05
    18-24 BAC limit is 0.08
    25-34 BAC limit is 0.10
    over 35 BAC limit is 0.12

    Further make the punishments relative to the BAC limit:

    +0.00 to +0.029 = lowest level punishment (still nothing to sneeze at)

    +0.030 to +0.049 = stiffer punishment similar to the mandatory sentencing that is currently used

    +0.050 or higher = highest level punishment

    Add leveling up for repeat offenders as currently enforced.

    You’ll catch the idiots early. You’ll still ratchet up quickly for repeat offenders. But you won’t hassle once in a lifetime joe who with an absolutely spotless record blows a 0.08 at the age of 42 because he just (insert reason here).

  • avatar

    As somebody who has lost friends to drunk drivers (and worries about the day his daughter will be driving), I’m completely on the MADD side. Drinking & driving is against the law. While there may be people who are more impaired at .08 than others, I don’t believe it’s an arbitrary number. It’s (I hope) the number that includes the most number of dangerous drivers. I don’t feel sympathy for the people who believe they are unimpaired at that level – I reserve that sympathy for those who’ve lost friends or family to people who made the decision to drive after drinking. It may not be the biggest cause of auto accidents, but so what? It’s one of the easiest to prevent. If you drink, don’t drive. Even if it only prevents a small percentage of the accidents, I can think of a lot of people who’ve lost somebody that would give anything if only one drunk driver had called a cab.

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    Nobody ever got hurt from NOT driving with an alcohol level at or above .08…the law needs to be set on the low side of tolerance, because at the point of at or above .08 a significant number are impaired….driving is a P-R-I-V-I-L-E-G-E, not a right, people. And driving while impaired in any way is just plain S-T-U-P-I-D. IMHO, anyone who advocates a reduction in either the laws or level of enforcement should immediately forfeit their B&B membership.

  • avatar
    ihatetrees

    joeaverage:
    Keep the laws the way they are and strengthen the penalties. Seizing vehicles is a great start. So is mandatory jail sentences for second time offenders.

    You may want to start a new organization, because MADD won’t support that.
    MADD gets very squeamish when you actually talk about putting people in jail for long periods. Or (another example) tracking Judges’ sentencing records.

    You wanna see a piece of work. Go to MADD’s website and search ‘prison’.

    What comes up are many MADD press releases. But the word ‘prison’ is only used at the bottom of every page. That’s where they store a whole jumble of words & phrases like ‘Viagara’, ‘Cheap Valium’, ‘Levitra’.

    It’s a search engine trap. MADD is very creepy and weird.

  • avatar
    bevo

    MADD has moved into the stratosphere populated by extremist groups such as PETA and the NRA whose sole goal now is self perpetuation than anything else.

    MADD long ago morphed into a latter day prohibition group. Reasonable drinking or responsible drinking cannot be tolerated. Instead, we must allow all booze because it MIGHT lead to drinking and driving.

    Operating a motor vehicle while under the impairment of almost any drug including alcohol, meth, pot, acid, etc. should not be tolerated. However, who carries if the passenger is polluted or is drinking a little rum with that soda?

    The good nannies and other nattering naboobs at MADD care a lot. As far as I am concerned, we as a society must tell every person who works with or supports MADD to shut the hell up.

    Carrie Nation must be smiling from her special place in Hell.

  • avatar
    kristen

    “If I walked into a McDonald’s and sprayed the place down with an AK-47, but by sheer dumb luck did NOT hit anyone I would still go to jail for a long time. Even the NRA would not be chipping in to my legal defense fund. I see very little difference between using the Kalashnikov and driving drunk. Go MADD.”

    I think a very telling difference is that someone who is firing an assault rifle into a McDonalds, is likely doing so in an attempt to hurt or kill someone. Regardless of the possibility of similar outcomes, a drunk driver is not attempting to kill.

    Your post smacks of the same emotion fueled exaggeration that MADD has become known for. As a matter of fact, I remember reading a quote from a MADD publication where a comparison was made between drunk driving and drive by shootings.

    To buy that particular brand of tripe, one must voluntarily blind themselves to important factors such as intent and malice.

  • avatar
    Stephan Wilkinson

    So get them for manslaughter, not murder.

  • avatar

    I don’t debate that drinking and driving is dangerous. What I do find unacceptable is that a non-proffit organization like madd has so much control over the Department of Transportation. As was stated earlier, highway funds are withheld from states until they comply. What the public does not know is that not only are DUI laws introduced by madd- they also push for split speed limits and lane restrictions for big trucks and others involved in the transportation industry. The bottom line is that this type of lobbying and legislation raises shipping rates for everthing including but not exclusive to food, clothing, medicine and building materials for homes and businesses. It’s like the big churches and the Christian Coalition continuing to debate Roe vs Wade at taxpayer expense. Madd does not inform the public that their stats include the drunk drivers who are killed in their own single car wrecks. Again I do not condone drinking and driving although I disagree with invading peoples rights, truckers rights, and anyone else that is wondering how we got along before we had all these self-appointed babbysitters who concern themselves with fundraising numbers ahead of lives and the right of people to be secure in their own property. We have all herd the stories of those who have had DUI’s in their driveways and such. Remember “Demolition Man”?- Hence if it is dangerous (Sex, Drinking, Smoking) it is illegal. Is that what the people want? That is what we will get unless we take a stand against out of control groups like madd.


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