MADD Origins in Sacramento, CA

driver in car drinking a beer about to cause a drunk driving accident

In 1980, 13 year old softball all-star Cari Lightner was killed in Fair Oaks, California when she and a friend were walking to a church carnival. A drunk driver who had been released from jail just two days prior on his fourth DUI hit Cari from behind, throwing her 125 feet, then fled the scene. He was later found and charged with her death.

Cari’s mother, Candace Lightner, was determined to change drunk driving laws in California and make sense of an otherwise senseless act. She turned her pain into purpose that year when she founded Mother’s Against Drunk Drivers, commonly known as MADD (which now stands for Mother Against Drunk Driving).

Cindy Lamb of Maryland, herself and her daughter victims of a head-on drunk driving collision, joined Lightner in the cause. With the rise of drug use and drug-impaired driving, the mission statement of MADD changed in 2015 to incorporate driving while under the influence of other substances, i.e. drugs.

The mission of Mothers Against Drunk Driving is to end drunk driving, help fight drugged driving, support the victims of these violent crimes and prevent underage drinking.”

Drunk Driving Accident Statistics

No drunk driving symbolThe drunk driving statistics posted by MADD are startling:

    • 50-75% of convicted drunk drivers continue to drive on a suspended license
    • a person is injured every two minutes in a drunk driving crash
  • 27 people die per day in drunk driving accidents
  • 2 out of 3 people will be involved in a drunk driving crash in their lifetime

Solutions to Prevent Drinking and Driving

As a result of the sobering facts related to driving under the influence, MADD launched The Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving in 2006. There has been positive public response in support of the campaign, which is comprised of the following three areas.

Supporting Heroes

MADD publicly supports law enforcement officers in their efforts to crack down on drunk driving, especially through sobriety checkpoints. These checkpoints have proven highly effective in getting drunk drivers off the street.

police sobriety checkpoint

Sober to Start

This is an initiative that requires ignition interlocking devices (i.e. in-car breathalyzers) for all those convicted of drunk driving to show that they are sober before they are even allowed to start the car. These devices are connected to the ignition and will not allow the car to start until the driver establishes that they are not impaired.

Secure the Future

MADD works with a coalition of government, traffic safety advocates, and members of the automotive industry to support the development of new technology that would prevent drivers from operating a vehicle while intoxicated. The result is DADSS, or Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety.

Outreach Initiatives

MADD provides many suggestions for individuals to help reduce drunk driving accidents, such as:

  • Tie One on for Safety: this is a program that advocates for safe driving during the holiday season, such as appointing designated drivers before the party begins and displaying a red MADD ribbon visibly in vehicles.
  • MADD and the NFL: in 2010, MADD partnered with the National Football League to remind fans that the most valuable position in the NFL is the designated driver. They attend select football games and remind fans to plan ahead and designate.
  • Teen Safety: to tackle underage drinking, MADD promotes the Why 21 program, which details the reasons for the legal red ribbon week MADD initiativedrinking age in America. MADD also makes a wealth of literature available online for middle school and high school students and parents. One well-known program is Red Ribbon Week, when most schools spend a week discussing the negative effects of alcohol and drug abuse.


Help for Drunk Driving Accident Victims

MADD provides supportive services to victims of intoxicated driving to help them cope. (If you are a victim or know someone who is, you can call 1-877-MADD-HELP to speak to an advocate day or night). They offer help by:

  • Connecting victims through support groups that can be found on their website.
  • Providing literature to help victims and others deal with grief, injuries, legal and financial implications, intervention and care.
  • Advocating for states to provide a source of compensation funds to address expenses like funerals, medical care, lost wages, counseling, child care, and crime scene clean-up. They rely heavily on the Victims of Crime Act to supply funds to directly to organizations (not individuals) to provide compensation.

MADD Affects California Drinking and Driving Laws

drunk driving ignition prevention deviceBy the year 2013, 25 out of 50 states had mandatory ignition interlock devices incorporated into the punishment phase for those convicted of drunk driving. All 50 states have some form of this as well.

California launched the pilot program requiring interlock devices for all convicted drunk drivers in Alameda, Los Angeles, Sacramento and Tulare counties, which encompassed about 13 million people. MADD urged California law makers to take action and pass SB61, expanding the pilot program to the entire state. Currently, taxpayer subsidy of drunk driving fatalities is about $5.4 billion in California.

MADD makes it extremely simple to lobby your state representative and to support proposed anti-drunk driving legislation with online petitions. M.A.D.D. has Teen Influencer Groups designed to equip teens with the information and resources to help them avoid drinking alcohol before 21.

Get Involved

It’s easy. There are a variety of ways to get involved with MADD online, by giving charitably, fundraising, staying informed, and submitting a volunteer application. And if you or someone you love has been the victim of a drunk driving accident, or any other car accident, contact our offices without delay.

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