Mothers Against Drunk Driving Toughening California Drunk Driving Laws

Feb 20, 2014 @ 04:10 PM — by Myles L. Berman

Across the country, DUI and drunk driving keeps popping up.  We hear it on the news, we learn about it on billboards, and we read it in tabloids.  Laws are changing, penalties are evolving, and drunk driving is getting much more attention.  This makes Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) anything but ‘mad’. 

Founded in 1980, MADD began with the goal of reducing drunk driving traffic fatalities through national education and public relations campaigns.  As the awareness of drunk driving has evolved, so has their mission.  Now nearly thirty-five years later, almost a $50 million organization with local chapters in every state, MADD’s agenda is increasingly aggressive.  But other than calling on legislatures for new drunk driving laws, “how” you ask?

At the beginning of this year, MADD released its 7th annual Campaign, referred to by many as their “blueprint.”  Using education campaigns, sponsored programming, and fundraising, this national campaign will execute the following main focuses:

  • Support and increase law enforcement and high-visibility law enforcement programs
  • Campaign for in-car breathalyzer device regulations for all convicted drunk drivers
  • Promote development of technologies for automobiles, of which would automatically determine if the driver is above the legal limit of .08 blood alcohol content (BAC)

Through lobbying, publicized programs, and volunteer initiative, members continue to work extensively to change state laws and create public awareness.  With lobbying expenses extremely costly and efforts very time consuming, MADD has fought hard to gain support to influence legislation and shed light on this issue.  Although the federal government has been an active supporter of MADD’s Campaign, lobbying activity depends upon how much attention the federal government is giving their issue.  In advocating for stronger legislation, MADD calls on the federal government to provide bold measures in upcoming bills, as well as Congress to pass legislation to authorize new funding for the implementation of programs and technologies, and every state to pass laws during legislative sessions.

MADD monitors their campaigns’ national progress and using a rating system to assess each of the states, then targets and promotes the adoption of countermeasures.  With the support and use of sobriety checkpoints, saturation patrols, and efforts to cease blood alcohol testing refusals, MADD works to encourage law enforcement agencies in local and state offices in drunk driving prosecutions.  And while there may only be so much that MADD can do, their legislative initiatives have helped to not only change DUI laws, but also how society views driving drunk and drunk driving.  MADD’s advocacy work has been very effective with legislative accomplishments, even in making California DUI laws more stringent, and it seems that they will remain a voice in prosecuting drunk driving in the foreseeable future.

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