california charity spotlight: mother's against drunk driving

California Charity Spotlight: Mother’s Against Drunk Driving

Mothers Against Drunk Driving, commonly known as MADD, is the nation’s largest nonprofit addressing drunk driving and underage drinking.

The organization works to prevent drunk driving and underage drinking through various initiatives, and it also provides support to victims of drunk or drugged drivers. MADD was founded in 1980, and its mission is “to stop drunk driving, support the victims of this violent crime, and prevent underage drinking.”

In the 34 years since it was founded, MADD has saved more than 300,000 lives and helped countless victims of drunk driving. Annual drunk driving fatalities are down nearly 50% from when MADD was founded in 1980. The leaders and members of MADD have seen several major victories, including:

  • the passage of .08 BAC as the illegal drunk driving limit in all 50 states and Washington, D.C.
  • the passage of Zero Tolerance Law nationwide, making it illegal for drivers under 21 to have any amount of alcohol in their system
  • testifying before Congress in the U.S. House Education Reform Subcommittee on underage drinking issues
  • the launch of the 24-hour 1-877-MADD-HELP victim helpline
  • Charity of the Year honors in 2004 from DMA Nonprofit Federation

MADD was launched by Candy Lighter and Cindi Lamb after both their children suffered at the hands of drunk drivers. Lighter’s daughter Cari was killed in a car accident by a repeat drunk driving offender, and Lamb’s daughter Laura became the country’s youngest quadriplegic after an accident with a drunk driver.

Lamb spearheaded a letter-writing campaign to judges, senators, and law enforcement in her home state of Maryland, while Lighter started working against drunk driving in California. The two eventually teamed up and held the first MADD press conference in Washington, D.C. in October 1980.

The MADD Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving Primary Focus:

  • Providing support for high-visibility law enforcement to catch drunk drivers and prevent others from driving drunk.
  • Requiring ignition interlock devices, or in-car breathalyzers, for drivers convicted of drunk driving to prove they are sober before getting behind the wheel.
  • Support development of technology that will automatically determine if the driver is above the legal limit of .08 and prevent the car from operating.

Since 2006, drunk driving deaths have decreased by nearly 25%. But despite the decrease, more than 10,000 lives were taken by drunk drivers in 2012. But MADD continues to press on, providing support and resources for victims at every step of the way; in 2012, more than 61,000 victims took advantage of MADD services.

MADD also works to minimize underage drinking, which claims about 5,000 lives every year.

The Power of Parents is a group that creates research-proven strategies to help parents keep their children away from underage drinking. Through this program and others like it, the nation has seen a 22% decrease in eighth grade alcohol use, an 8% decrease in 10th grade alcohol use, and a 4% decrease in 12th grade alcohol use.

Click here for more information about MADD.