It’s a MADD, MADD, MADD World

Two things:

1. Never tell a class of preschoolers that Santa Claus isn’t real.

2. Never point out to a gathering of adults that MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) is failing at their original mission and they have become little more than a group of hatchet wielding prohibitionists set on severely restricting alcohol.

Both statements are bound to elicit tears and outrage.

So, let’s not talk about Santa; but let’s talk about Mother’s Against Drunk Driving. But before you think a line has been crossed, it was Candice Lightner, the founder of MADD, who resigned from MADD over some of the issues discussed below.

MADD’s story

Candice Lightner’s daughter’s death at the hands of a drunk driver precipitated her mission and the founding of MADD. In fact, Candice formed MADD the day after her daughter’s funeral. The original goal of MADD was to rid the road of habitual drunk drivers who ended up killing or maiming someone. The double D at the end of their acronym stood for Drunk Drivers, like the man who killed her child.

MADD initially targeted an extremely small segment of the population who consistently drank to the point of a drunken stupor and then got behind the wheel. Candice Lightner believed that by removing this group from the driving pool, alcohol related deaths and injuries would plummet—and she was right.

The success of MADD was outrageous. They successfully rallied an entire population to their cause. They raised millions of dollars like few grassroots groups before, and their acronym was plastered on bumpers from New York to San Diego. They effectively lobbied in legislatures all over the country to pass laws that made it difficult for habitual drunks to drive.

MADD gone mad

But success and money went to MADD’s head. Factions in the organization, not content with Candice Lightner’s limited approach, decided to escalate the war to include any drinking and driving. Mantras such as, impairment begins with the first drink, became the new policy.

This is where Ms. Lightner objected. Her original real world approach to drunk drivers gave way to a prohibitionist mindset that sought a zero tolerance policy to any drinking and driving. The leadership of a bereaved mother gave way to a cadre of Carrie Nations. To say that the split between MADD and its founder was anything but amicable would be an understatement. In Candice’s own words she states, MADD “has become far more neo-prohibitionist than I ever wanted or envisioned. I didn’t start MADD to deal with alcohol. I started MADD to deal with the issue of drunk driving.”

Carrie A. Nation – Celebrated
President McKinley’s assassination
since, as a closet drinker, he got what he deserved.

A Powerful Influence

One should shudder to think that the image above inspired a nation to pass the eighteenth amendment, outlawing alcohol. It is much easier to understand the support people offer grieving mothers, no matter how marginalizing their message may have become. In fact, the PR afforded MADD is nearly unapproachable.

MADD’s belief in the concept that impairment begins with the first drink, expands their target from drunk drivers, a miniscule percent of the population, to drinkers in general, 67% of the population. In recent campaigns, MADD has equated alcohol with heroine and made other violent references to the nature of alcohol without even discussing the issue of driving. The spirit of Carrie Nation truly lives on.

Since MADD has become the ultimate money-raising machine, they are able to wield enormous influence over legislatures, police forces, and public opinion. They employ an army of lobbyists and influence peddlers to help spread their message. In 2009 they raised over $41 million alone.

So, what is the point? What does this mean to you?

For over 30 years, the influence of MADD has driven legislation, public policy, and even the attitude of law enforcement. People who drink and drive have been tacitly labeled as terrorists behind the wheel and a DUI arrest employs a set of rules that seems to disregard important aspects of the 4th, 5th, and 14th amendments. And here in Spokane it is no different.

Most people are okay with this because these policies apply to drunk drivers, a disenfranchised, contemptible lot who killed somebody’s child. MADD considers you guilty until proven innocent. In a recent statement a MADD leader criticized a defense attorney by stating, “We don’t welcome him in the community” because he’s “spreading out his poisonous influence” in protecting basic constitutional rights.”

Fortunately MADD has yet to tackle marijuana, but that day may soon come. However, because of the policies influenced by MADD, marijuana DUIs in Spokane are under the same constitutionally questionable due process.

Until that day . . .

You are, most likely, not a habitual drunk driver driving at twice the legal limit. You are an ordinary person who stopped by for a beer after work. Unfortunately, once the label of drunk driver is pinned on you, (after your arrest mind you, not your conviction) you will endure this stigma for the rest of your life. MADD will see to it that your bio will read, “Cured cancer, but was arrested for DUI shortly thereafter.”

The dissatisfaction with MADD and it’s policies are slowly, imperceptibly, filtering into the community; even here in Spokane. However, the outcome is still not final. Hopefully, another experiment in legislated morality akin to the eighteenth amendment isn’t on the horizon—and perhaps people will start to recognize that constitutional rights are more important than the narrow agenda of one organization.

Until that day however, be wary and become informed about your rights and options in a DUI arrest—and it isn’t a stretch to recommend that you begin carrying the card of your Spokane DUI lawyer in your purse or wallet.

This post was submitted by a guest writer. This may or may not reflect the ideas or opinions of the attorneys of Action Legal Group.

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