13 States Rated Highest in MADD’s Report on Drunk Driving Prevention

By Paul Gaita 02/11/15

Mothers Against Drunk Driving has gained ground in making drunk driving a 100% preventable crime.

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Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), which celebrates its 35th year in 2015, has released its annual Report to the Nation.

The report provides an overview of efforts by each state to reduce drunk-driving accidents and fatalities, and is part of the organization’s “Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving,” which aids in passing legislation to make drunk driving a 100% preventable crime.

The report grades each state’s efforts with a five-star system, which is based on adoption of the following laws and proven countermeasures:

  • Requiring ignition interlocks for all convicted drunk drivers. The devices measure blood alcohol level through a breathalyzer mechanism and allow (or prevent) the driver from starting their car based on the test result.
  • Conducting sobriety checkpoints that conduct random screenings of drivers for intoxication.
  • Allowing law officials to immediately confiscate an intoxicated driver’s license.
  • Implementing child endangerment laws, which create enhanced penalties for those who drive under the influence with children in the car.
  • Granting law enforcement officers the right to obtain an expedited warrant to test suspected offenders who refuse to take a blood alcohol test.

Based on these criteria, MADD awarded a five-star rating to 13 states: Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Utah, Virginia, and West Virginia. Three of those states—Delaware, Mississippi and Alabama—received the highest ratings for the first time this year.

Two states, Rhode Island and Montana, received one-star ratings due to the inclusion of only one of the listed criteria—or in the case of Montana, none of the listed criteria—in their respective legislatures.

The report also notes that $20 million in grant money is available to states in order to pass laws that would require convicted drunk drivers to install interlock devices. The grant money, included in the 2012 federal highway bill, may serve as the initiative needed for states like California, New Jersey, and Maryland, which are considering interlock legislation this year, to pass these bills into law and improve their star rating in MADD’s 2016 report.

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Paul Gaita lives in Los Angeles. He has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Variety, LA Weekly, Amazon.com and The Los Angeles Beat, among many other publications and websites.