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MADD And The Social Drinker This Holiday Season

Posted by Jane Akre
Tuesday, December 30, 2008 12:25 PM EST
Category: On The Road, Major Medical, Protecting Your Family
Tags: Auto Accidents, Alcohol Consumption, Drunk Driving, MADD

Anti-drinking zeal this holiday season, beware!



IMAGE SOURCE: Wikimedia Commons/ field sobriety test/ author: Versageek


Can You Drink and Drive Responsibly? How Much?


Every year around this time, you hear the statistics on drunk drivers with an aim at stopping you from becoming one. 

Almost 1,300 people were killed nationwide between Thanksgiving and New Years in 2007 as a result of drunk drivers, reports Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), the national organization focused on reducing driving while intoxicated (DWI) motorists.

MADD is supporting an $8 million national TV and radio ad campaign from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that promises stepped up law enforcement this holiday season to deter drunk driving in all 50 states.

Tie One On For Safety campaign is distributing more than 2.5 million red ribbons and window decals encouraging drivers to show support for increased holiday law enforcement. 

Statistics show that there are more than two million drunk drivers with three or more convictions, and more than 400,000 with five or more DUI convictions still behind the wheel.

New Prohibition? 

Critics of MADD say the organization has turned its focus into going after the social drinker with a goal of eliminating all driving after any amount of alcohol.

Speaking for the American Beverage Institute, John Doyle, the executive director says MADD has developed a zero tolerance toward any alcohol consumption.  Even if you have a second glass of wine at dinner and are stopped at a DUI roadblock- MADD wants your children to be taken away.

He writes, “This previously admirable group has slipped into pure anti-alcohol zealotry with its "zero tolerance" campaign against drinking anything at all before driving. If you are a divorced parent who drives your kids safely home after having a single drink, MADD wants you to lose your parental rights. That's right, MADD wants this Prohibitionist requirement written into every separation agreement and divorce decree.”

North Carolina has a tough new law – if you offer anyone under 21 a drink in the state, you can lose your driver’s license, even if that person goes nowhere near a car. The new law went into effect a year ago and was pushed by the North Carolina chapter of MADD.   

That means if you offer your 20-year-old a glass of champagne on New Year’s Eve, after she decided to forgo going out with her friends and stayed home instead – you could lose your license.

The North Carolina measure is a more extreme version of policies emerging in several states, including Virginia, New York, and Texas, that punish people for drinking regardless of whether there's any evidence that they plan to drive.

The fear is that a zero tolerance policy toward a glass or two of wine takes away law enforcement efforts to crack down on the most serious problems. Drunk drivers involved in fatal accidents have an average BAC of .16 percent, twice the legal limit. Impairment can begin at two to four drinks, depending on which statistics you want to follow.

For example a 180-pound man would have to drink eight beers in an hour to achieve that limit.  The National Commission Against Drunk Driving’s Herb Simpson says, “These people don’t have a glass of wine with dinner or a couple of beer(s). They’re having 8,10, 12, 14…” 

It’s estimated that about 25 million Americans drink responsibly before driving.

Studies from the University of University of Utah, the New England Journal of Medicine and elsewhere show that drivers using a hands-free cell phone are more "impaired" than drivers at .08 percent BAC.


Candy Lightner, who founded MADD in 1980 after her daughter was killed by a drunk driver repeat offender, reportedly walked away from the group years ago because she felt it was no longer a public service group that was trying to end drunk driving, but had turned into an anti-alcohol bureaucracy, a niche nonprofit industry interested in fundraising for itself.

With an annual budget of $45 million, $12 million reportedly goes for salaries.

Get Madd. A web site critical of MADD,  reports that Madd Inc. is a big business receiving more than $12 million in government funding, while the American Institute of Philanthropy gives MADD a "D" rating for the money spent on salaries compared to that spent on programs.  #


Anonymous User
Posted by followthemoney
Tuesday, December 30, 2008 2:11 PM EST

Thank you for a well balanced article instead of the usual hysterics regarding the effect of drunk drivers.
I do take issue with the statement that a man must drink 8 beers in one hour to be legally drunk. I have tested myself (176 lbs) and found that 2-3 beers in one hour puts me at the .08 BAC level. The 8 beer example appears to be another dubious statistic to make it look like only stupid excessive drinkers are the target of DUI enforcers. This voodoo math is dangerous if people believe it and "only" drinks 6 beers an hour, assuming that they are under the limit. It will help MADD's bottom line, as more arrests translate into more fees collected at their Victim Impact Panels.

Jane Akre Injury Board Community Member
Posted by Jane Akre
Tuesday, December 30, 2008 2:15 PM EST

It's an old adage among journalists "Follow the money trail" and unfortunately it proves true more often than not.

Posted by Daniel Borochoff, AIP
Tuesday, December 30, 2008 9:06 PM EST

Correction: the American Institute of Philanthropy gives MADD a "D" rating for the money spent on [overhead] compared to that spent on programs. (note: Salaries may be program or overhead depending on the use of each charity employee's time.)

Comments for this article are closed.

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