The Purpose Of Mothers Against Drunk Driving Or MADD

by Terry Bryant

On May 7, 1980, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, or MADD, was formed by Candice Lightner. Lightner created the organization after her 13-year-old daughter was hit and killed by an intoxicated motorist. The man was eventually caught and arrested for DUI and intoxicated manslaughter. At the time, it was his fifth arrest for DUI. This spurred Lightner to create an agency that would push for harsher punishments toward people who would break the law in this way. The organization also dedicates its efforts to educating people on the dangers of operating a vehicle while intoxicated.

Since its founding, the organization has quickly grown in size. It now receives more than $40 million in funding every year to provide educational resources and advocacy for victims and concerned citizens. The group has also been involved in many initiatives to curtail the rate of drunk driving. MADD officials claim that since the group was founded, DUI rates have been cut in half.

This is partly due to the organization’s efforts to produce beneficial policy. In particular, the group had a major impact on getting the minimum drinking age set to 21. This policy was created after Frank R. Lautenberg, a U.S. Senator, sought to curtail young people from traveling to other states to buy alcohol. The law required any state that didn’t comply with the new age limit to pay a penalty. In effect, this created a uniform minimum age for alcohol consumption around the country.

In recent years, the agency has pushed for ignition interlock devices to keep intoxicated motorists from operating their vehicles and possibly causing automobile accidents. These devices function like breathalyzers and will keep the car’s engine from starting if a person’s blood alcohol concentration is too high.