Mothers Against Drunk Driving

Mothers Against Drunk Driving

Mothers Against Drunk Driving
Abbreviation MADD
Formation September 5, 1980
Type 501(c)3
Headquarters Irving, Texas, U.S.
Affiliations MADD Canada

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) is a Candace Lightner after her 13-year-old daughter was killed by a drunk driver.[1] There is at least one MADD office in every state in the United States, [2] and at least one in each province in Canada.[3] These offices offer victim services and many resources involving alcohol safety. MADD claims that drunk driving has been cut in half since their founding.[4]


  • Mission 1
    • Shift from reducing DUI to reducing alcohol use 1.1
  • History 2
  • Funding 3
  • Activities and criticisms 4
    • Drunk driving laws 4.1
    • Victim impact panels 4.2
    • Grand Theft Auto 4.3
    • Blood alcohol content 4.4
    • Sobriety checkpoints 4.5
    • Beer taxes 4.6
    • Breath alcohol ignition interlock devices 4.7
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


According to its official website, "The mission of Mothers Against Drunk Driving is to stop drunk driving, support the victims of this violent crime and prevent underage drinking."[5]

Generally MADD favors:

  • Education (about the dangers of drunk driving), advocacy and victim assistance
  • Strict policy in a variety of areas, including an illegal blood alcohol content of .08%[6] or lower and using stronger sanctions for DUI offenders, including mandatory jail sentences, treatment for alcoholism and other alcohol abuse issues, ignition interlock devices,[7] and license suspensions
  • Helping victims of drunk driving (this includes family members and other loved ones of both innocent victims and guilty impaired drivers)
  • Maintaining the minimum legal drinking age at 21 years
  • Mandating alcohol breath-testing ignition interlock devices (IIDs) for everyone convicted of driving while legally impaired

Shift from reducing DUI to reducing alcohol use

MADD's founder, Candace Lightner left the group in 1985. In 2002, as reported by the Washington Times, Lightner stated that MADD "has become far more neo-prohibitionist than I had ever wanted or envisioned … I didn't start MADD to deal with alcohol. I started MADD to deal with the issue of drunk driving".[8]


Candace (Candy) Lightner is the organizer and was the founding president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving. On May 3, 1980 Lightner’s 13-year-old daughter, Cari, was killed by a drunken hit-and-run driver at Sunset and New York Avenues in Fair Oaks, California. The 46-year-old driver, who had recently been arrested for another DUI hit-and-run, left her body at the scene.[1]

A 1983 television movie about Lightner resulted in publicity for the group, which grew rapidly.

In the early 1980s, the group attracted the attention of the United States Congress. Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) did not like the fact that youth in New Jersey could easily travel to New York to purchase alcoholic beverages, circumventing New Jersey's law restricting consumption to those 21 years old and over.[9] The group had its greatest success with the imposition of a 1984 federal law, the National Minimum Drinking Age Act, that introduced a federal penalty (a 5%–later raised to 10%–loss of federal highway dollars), for states that didn't raise to 21 the minimum legal age for the purchase and possession of alcohol. After the United States Supreme Court upheld the law in the 1987 case of South Dakota v. Dole, every state and the District of Columbia capitulated by 1988 (but not the territories of Puerto Rico and Guam).

In 1985, Lightner objected to the shifting focus of MADD, and left her position with the organization.

In 1988, a drunk driver traveling the wrong way on Interstate 71 in Kentucky caused a head-on collision with a school bus. Twenty-seven people died and dozens more were injured in the ensuing fire. The Carrollton bus disaster in 1988 equaled another bus crash in Kentucky in 1958 as the deadliest bus crash in U.S. history. In the aftermath, several parents of the victims became actively involved in MADD, and one became its national president.

In 1989, MADD Canada was founded.[10]

In 1994, the [11]

In 1991, MADD released its first "Rating the States" report, grading the states in their progress against drunk driving. "Rating the States" has been released four times since then.

In 1999, MADD’s National Board of Directors unanimously voted to change the organization’s mission statement to include the prevention of underage drinking.[12]

In 2002, MADD announced an "Eight-Point Plan". This comprised:

  1. Resuscitate the nation's efforts to prevent impaired driving.
  2. Increase driving while intoxicated (DWI)/driving under the influence (DUI) enforcement, especially the use of frequent, highly publicized sobriety checkpoints.
  3. Enact primary enforcement seat belt laws in all states.
  4. Create tougher, more comprehensive sanctions geared toward higher-risk drivers.
  5. Develop a dedicated National Traffic Safety Fund.
  6. Reduce underage drinking.
  7. Increase beer excise taxes to the same level as those for spirits.
  8. Reinvigorate court monitoring programs.[13]

In a November 2006 press release, MADD launched its 'Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving': this is a four-point plan to completely eliminate drunk driving in the United States using a combination of current technology (such as alcohol ignition interlock devices), new technology in smart cars, law enforcement, and grass roots activism.[14]

Chuck Hurley was MADD CEO from 2005-2010.[15] He retired in June 2010 and was replaced by Kimberly Earle, who had been CEO of Susan G. Komen for the Cure since 2007.[16] Earle left to work for Sanford Health in January 2012.[17] Debbie Weir was named MADD's new Chief Executive Officer.


According to Obama-Coburn Federal Funding Accountability Transparency Act of 2006, MADD received $56,814 in funds from the federal government in fiscal year 2000, and a total of $9,593,455 between fiscal years 2001 and 2006.[18]

In 1994, Money magazine reported that telemarketers raised over $38 million for MADD, keeping nearly half of it in fees. This relationship continues to date.[19]

In 2001, Worth magazine listed MADD as one of its "100 best charities".[20]

In 2005, USA Today reported that the American Institute of Philanthropy was reducing MADD from a "C" to a "D" in its ratings. The Institute noted that MADD categorizes much of its fundraising expenses as "educational expenses", and that up to 58% of its revenue was expended on what the Institute considered fund-raising and management.[21]

Charity Navigator rated MADD at 39.08 out of 70 on its charity rating scale for the 2011 fiscal year.[22] MADD reported that it spent 29.5% of its budget on fundraising that year.[22] Charity Navigator reported MADD's total revenue for the year as $39 million (US).[22]

In 2009 MADD took in $41,006,038 and paid salaries of $20,537,936, over half of their income.[23]

Activities and criticisms

Radley Balko, an advocate for decriminalizing drunk driving,[24] argued in a December 2002 article that MADD's policies are becoming overbearing. "In fairness, MADD deserves credit for raising awareness of the dangers of driving while intoxicated. It was almost certainly MADD's dogged efforts to spark public debate that effected the drop in fatalities since 1980, when Candy Lightner founded the group after her daughter was killed by a drunk driver," Balko wrote. "But MADD is at heart a bureaucracy, a big one. It boasts an annual budget of $45 million, $12 million of which pays for salaries, pensions and benefits. Bureaucracies don't change easily, even when the problems they were created to address change."[25] Charity Watch gives MADD a "C-" grade.[26]

Phillip Konstantin award. Many local MADD chapters honor law enforcement for their efforts.

Drunk driving laws

MADD was heavily involved in lobbying to reduce the legal limit for blood alcohol from BAC .10 to BAC .08.[27] In 2000, this standard was passed by Congress and by 2004, every state had a legal .08 BAC limit.[28] MADD Canada has called for a maximum legal BAC of .05. Although many MADD leaders have supported a lower limit, MADD has not called for a legal limit of .05 in the United States.

Victim impact panels

MADD promotes the use of victim impact panels (VIPs), in which judges require DWI offenders to hear victims or relatives of victims of drunk driving crashes relate their experiences. MADD received $5,547,693 in 2010[29] from VIPs; much of this income was voluntary donations by those attending as some states, such as California, do not allow a fee to be charged to offenders for non-legislative programs. Other states like Georgia require that a fee be paid in order to attend, in Georgia this fee is $50.[30] Some states in the United States, such as Massachusetts, permit victims of all crimes, including drunk driving accidents, to give victim impact statements prior to sentencing so that judges and prosecutors can consider the impact on victims in deciding on an appropriate sentence to recommend or impose. The presentations are often emotional, detailed, and graphic, and focus on the tragic negative consequences of DWI and alcohol-related crashes. According to the John Howard Society, some studies have shown that permitting victims to make statements and to give testimony is psychologically beneficial to them and aids in their recovery and in their satisfaction with the criminal justice system.[31] A New Mexico study suggested that the VIPs tended to be perceived as confrontational by multiple offenders. Such offenders then had a higher incidence of future offenses.[32]

Grand Theft Auto

On April 29, 2008 MADD issued a press release criticizing the video game Grand Theft Auto IV saying it was "extremely disappointed" with the manufacturers. MADD has called on the ESRB to re-rate the game to Adults Only. They also called on the manufacturer (Rockstar) "to consider a stop in distribution – if not out of responsibility to society then out of respect for the millions of victims/survivors of drunk driving.".[33] Players can drive drunk in Grand Theft Auto IV but doing so makes it harder to drive.[34] The game also explicitly recommends that the player take a taxi instead of driving, and the character makes humorous remarks suggesting that it is bad to drive drunk. Ignoring these will lead to consequences: if any police officer is around while the player is drunk driving, the player immediately becomes wanted by the police.

Blood alcohol content

Prior to the MADD's influence, drunk driving laws addressed the danger by making it a criminal offense to drive a vehicle while impaired — that is, while "under the influence of alcohol"; the amount of alcohol in the body was evidence of that impairment. The level specified at that time—commonly, 0.15%--was high enough to indicate drunkenness rather than impairment. In part due to MADD's influence, all 50 states have now passed laws making it a criminal offense to drive with a designated level of alcohol of .08% or higher.[28]

Sobriety checkpoints

MADD writes that “opponents of sobriety checkpoints tend to be those who drink and drive frequently and are concerned about being caught”.[35]

Radley Balko, opponent of limits on drunk driving[24] and writer for Reason Magazine, discusses the possible social implications of some of MADD's policies in a 2002 article. He writes, "In its eight-point plan to 'jump-start the stalled war on drunk driving,' MADD advocates the use of highly publicized but random roadblocks to find drivers who have been drinking.".[25]

Beer taxes

Balko criticizes MADD for not advocating higher [25] MADD writes, "Currently, the federal excise tax is $.05 per can of beer, $.04 for a glass of wine and $.12 for a shot of distilled spirits, which all contain about the same amount of alcohol."[13] Point 7 of MADD's 8-Point Plan is to "Increase beer excise taxes to equal the current excise tax on distilled spirits".[36]

Breath alcohol ignition interlock devices

Additionally, MADD has proposed that breath alcohol ignition interlock devices should be installed in all new cars. Tom Incantalupo wrote:[37] "Ultimately, the group said yesterday, it wants so-called alcohol interlock devices factory-installed in all new cars. "The main reason why people continue to drive drunk today is because they can," MADD president Glynn Birch said at a news teleconference from Washington, D.C."

Sarah Longwell, a spokeswoman for the restaurant lobbying group American Beverage Institute, responded to MADD's proposals for ignition interlocks by stating "This interlock campaign is not about eliminating drunk driving, it is about eliminating all moderate drinking prior to driving. The 40 million Americans who drink and drive responsibly should be outraged." She also points out that "Many states have laws that set the presumptive level of intoxication at .05% and you can't adjust your interlock depending on which state you're driving in. Moreover, once you factor in liability issues and sharing vehicles with underage drivers you have pushed the preset limit down to about .02%. It will be a de facto zero tolerance policy."[38]

A review of devices concluded, "The results of the study show that interlock works for some offenders in some contexts, but not for all offenders in all situations. More specifically, ignition interlock devices work best when they are installed, although there is also some evidence that judicial orders to install an interlock are effective for repeat DUI offenders, even when not all offenders comply and install a device. California's administrative program, where repeat DUI offenders install an interlock device in order to obtain restricted driving privileges, is also associated with reductions in subsequent DUI incidents. One group for whom ignition interlock orders do not appear effective is first DUI offenders with high blood alcohol levels."[39]

See also


  1. ^ a b Friedrich, Otto (1985-01-07). "Man of the Year 1985". Time. Retrieved 2009-08-09. 
  2. ^ "Mother's Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Local Offices". MADD- Mother's Against Drunk Driving. Retrieved 15 October 2015. 
  3. ^ "WHo is MADD Canada". MADD Canada. Retrieved 15 October 2015. 
  4. ^ MADD. "MADD - VOCA Funding". 
  5. ^ "History of the Mission Statement". 
  6. ^ "MADD laws page". 2000-01-01. Retrieved 2009-08-09. 
  7. ^ Ignition Interlock - Issue Brief from the MADD website
  8. ^ Bresnahan, S. MADD struggles to remain relevant. Washington Times Metropolitan edition), August 6, 2002, B1-2
  9. ^ "21" turns 20, MADD Online; published in DRIVEN magazine, Spring 2004
  10. ^ Learn More from the MADD Canada website
  11. ^ The Charities Americans Like Most And Least, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, December 13, 1996
  12. ^ Why has MADD changed its mission statement? from the MADD website
  13. ^ a b Getting MADD All Over Again: 8-Point Plan to Jump Start War on Drunk Driving archived press release from
  14. ^ MADD Announces National Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving MADD Online Press Release; November 20, 2006
  15. ^ """Road safety pioneer Chuck Hurley "will always be a part of MADD. Fast Lane. U.S. Department of Transportation. 23 June 2010. Retrieved 24 January 2012. 
  16. ^ Pearson-Hormillosa, Shashana (26 April 2010). "MADD names former Komen executive CEO". Dallas Business Journal. Retrieved 24 January 2012. 
  17. ^ "Kimberly Earle to Lead the Edith Sanford Breast Cancer Foundation". PRWeb. 24 January 2012. Retrieved 24 January 2012. 
  18. ^ Federal Assistance for Nonprofits in Irving, Texas from 2001- 2006 from
  19. ^ MADD. "MADD - DialAmerica". 
  20. ^
  21. ^ Jayne O'Donnell MADD enters 25th year with change on its mind
  22. ^ a b c Charity Navigator Rating - Mothers Against Drunk Driving from
  23. ^
  24. ^ a b Balko, Radley (October 11, 2010). "Abolish Drunk Driving Laws".  
  25. ^ a b c "Targeting the Social Drinker Is Just MADD," Balko, Radley (from the CATO Institute website)
  26. ^ Charity Rating Guide and Watchdog Report, Volume Number 59, December 2011
  27. ^ "Stricter blood alcohol limit for drivers: doctors, MADD". CBC News. November 27, 2001. 
  28. ^ a b Nelson, Steven (28 May 2013). "MADD Founder: Don't Lower the Legal BAC Limit". US News & World Report. Retrieved 3 August 2015. 
  29. ^
  30. ^ MADD. "MADD - VIP SCHEDULE - GA". 
  31. ^ Victim Impact Statements—John Howard Society of Alberta, 1997
  32. ^ "A Randomized Trial of Victim Impact Panels’ DWI Deterrence Effectiveness," W. G. Woodall, H. Delaney, E. Rogers, & D. R. Wheeler; Center on Alcoholism, Substance Abuse, and Addictions (CASAA), University of New Mexico
  33. ^’s-Statement-Regarding-Grand-Theft-Auto-IV.aspx
  34. ^ Grand Theft Auto IV preview-splosion! - Joystiq
  35. ^ Sobriety Checkpoints: Facts & Myths from MADD's website
  36. ^ New 8-Point Plan To Jumpstart Stalled War On Drunk Driving from MADD's website
  37. ^
  38. ^ American Beverage Institute. "MADD Interlock Campaign Targets Responsible Social Drinkers". PR Newswire. Retrieved 3 August 2015. 
  39. ^ California Department of Motor Vehicles An Evaluation of the Effectiveness of Ignition Interlock in California

External links

  • Official website