Don’t Drink…Oh…and don’t drive either.

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I’ve always been suspicious of the motives of the folks at Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). I’ve always had the sneaking feeling that their main concern was stopping the consumption of alcohol, rather than stopping drunk driving.

My suspicion grew when MADD led the charge to lower legal blood alcohol limits (BAC) to .08 from .10 . It struck me that the only difference this would make would be to create a new class of criminals who previously play a very small roll in drunk driving statistics. It was a move the simply scared people and reduced their ability to enjoy a glass of wine or  snifter of single malt without guilt and fear.

MADD was also behind a law enforcement tactic called ""administrative license revocation", a ruled that allows the state to confiscate your vehicle not if you are convicted of drunk driving but if you are merely accused of drunk driving. For those Constitutional scholars out there, I’d suggest there might be a 5th Amendment issue here.

Now I read that MADD is instituting a push to have "ignition interlock devices" put in every vehicle. The idea is that if you are at the .08 limit your car’s IID will recognize this and stop your care from starting. Without falling into the kind of conspiratorial mindset that might allow me to claim the earth is round, is it out of line to think that these devises might one day be used to stop ANYONE who has had ANY AMOUNT of Alcohol from getting their car to start?

Candy Lightner, the woman who founded MADD, had this to say about the organization she is no longer affiliated with:

"MADD has]ecome far more neo-prohibitionist
than I had ever wanted or envisioned …I didn’t start MADD to
deal with alcohol. I started MADD to deal with the issue of drunk
driving," she said.

23 Responses

  1. Joe - November 21, 2006

    Tom – quick question; do you have kids?

  2. genevelynsteele - November 21, 2006

    I’m not sure where Joe’s question is going, (so I apologize in advance if I am misinterpreting his point)but I’m guessing he is raising the “it’s for the children card”.
    In some instances, the internet has been dangerous to children. Should we legislate and lock access to the internet as well, in case someone out there with a BAC of .o8 takes her eyes off her PC while watching a child?

  3. Joe - November 21, 2006

    Not sure I even have a point, really. It was just a question. I’d be curious to know if someone with kids would write such a missive and post a satirical pic of an “angry Mom” in a post about MADD and thier “motives”. And by the way; MADD stands for Mothers Against Drunk Driving. It’s an achronym – I don’t think it’s meant to be taken literally. Then again, I’d be pretty fucking pissed if some asshole that didn’t know “when to say when” plowed into my child(ren) and killed them. I would think a better illustration of a “MADD Mom” would be of a woman dressed in black at her child’s funeral hanging onto her family for support because the grief that she feels is so crippling she can barely stand.
    It’s funny – before kids I would have given Tom a big “Go get ’em” slap on the back. But two kids later Tom’s missive seems insensitive and selfish. While I don’t necessarily agree that putting locks on cars is the answer, I can understand and empathise with an organization that is headed by persons (women specifically in this case) that have lost the most precious thing(s) in their lives to idiots who get so cocked they can’t even see straight, much less drive a car. So if in their zealousness they go a little overboard in their propositions, I would hope that as a society we could cut them a little slack and understand that their intentions are rooted in a ddep and profound sense of loss and anguish. Besides; it’s up to the federal and state courts to decide the legality of said propositions. Checks and Balances my friend…
    Oh and “genevelynsteele”; your argument trying to tie together a BAC of .08 the Internet and children is idiotic. I’m pretty sure no one has ever suggested that “drinking and browsing” posed a threat to children – at least not in the way you are suggesting. Now, having a BAC of .08 and picking up the computer and hurling it at a child – that’s another story.

  4. Saint_Vini - November 21, 2006

    Joe: I think your points are well made, but you seem to be jumping to the conclusion that EVERY member of MADD has lost a child in a DD accident. This is simply not the case. MADD has become an activist organization that is positioning itself more toward prohibition than eliminating DD. I think that is where Tom was headed along with the related issues of “Big Brother” and the babysitting role of government….
    I’d be curious to know what percent of all fatal crashes are caused by drunks over .08 as compared to other causes….anyone? anyone?
    As for parents, and I am one, my deepest sympathies to those who have lost a child in any way, DD included.

  5. John - November 21, 2006

    Funny how MADD is ran by a girly man.
    How about we drug test every one of the MADD members.
    Are they racist, another way to receive Government money with out having to do anything. A bunch of lazy people looking for free hand outs.

  6. johng - November 21, 2006

    Tom – without jumping too far into the fray here, just as a point of info, when I read about this proposed device, I believe I saw that use was to be required only for use by people who already had a DUI conviction.
    While you could argue that it’s a slippery slope from there, I think it’s an important distinction, because it’s not uncommon for your rights to change quite a bit after you’ve been convicted of a crime.

  7. Joe - November 21, 2006

    Saint Vini: Point well taken. I’m sure you are right – every member of MADD is not a victim of drunk driving, but I’d be surprised if the majority weren’t. I can also see how an organization such as MADD can be overrun with zealots bent on abolishing alcohol altogether – but we all know that isn’t going to happen anytime soon, if ever (the liquor lobbyist are too strong). So, back to my point (wait, I didn’t really have one) – characterizing MADD as a bunch of bitchy Mom’s hell bent on making sure no one ever has a sip of alcohol again is ludicrous.
    Here’s part of the statistic you are looking for: “Of the 16,694 people who died in alcohol-related crashes in 2004, 8256 (57%) were killed in crashes where the driver had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 g/dL or higher. The legal limit for BAC is currently .08 in all states in the US.”
    BTW: What’s up with the post from “John”? What a douche.

  8. tom - November 21, 2006

    Well, yes…2 kids.
    As for the locking device, either take away a person’s license after a DD conviction, or punish them and be done with it.

  9. Joe - November 21, 2006

    Touche – Tom has two kids. Interesting. That’s all I really wanted to know.

  10. Ken Payton - November 21, 2006

    Hey Joe,
    Where are you goin’ with that gun in your hand? Dude, find another blog to vent. Tom supports responsible, adult drinking of a most civilized beverage. Go pester the whiskey or mixed drink folk. Twenty and unders do not steal Pinot Noir from their parents or from the local 7-11: Its Vodka, Gin, Tequilla, all those unforgiving drinks that lead to the vast majority of alcohol related accidents. Get off your high horse. Go pester Grey Goose or Colt 45. I am sure they have blogs. Perhaps you could start one.
    Father of two.

  11. johng - November 21, 2006

    So Joe, you’re promoting a business called by visiting a prominent wine blog and calling folks names like “douche”.
    Interesting business model you got there….

  12. Tim McNally - November 21, 2006

    It seems that 70% of children under the age of 14 who die in alcohol-related auto accidents are riding in the car with an alcohol-impaired driver. The leading cause of death in teenagers is auto accidents. More than 74% of those accidents are caused by an alcohol-impaired teen-age driver. Seems the Mothers should be at home taking care of thier families rather than placing constraints on the freedom of strangers. I can imagine nothing worse than having a child struck down by a drunk driver. Except, and this is worse, when that driver is a family member, or, and this is worse too, when that teenager who was drunk and had an accident, lives in my household. These statistics, by the way, are the ones posted by MADD.

  13. Wineboy! - November 22, 2006

    Here in New Mexico an slaughtered by a drunk driver whom the press reported as .32 (obviously a few too many).
    So calling it a DWI Task Force is no longer good enough they now have to strike someone. The only person who is going to get struck is the poor bloke who sold Mr. Papst a six pack at some convenience store. So much for personal responsibility. Mr. Papst is dead by the way.
    New Mexico has arguably the strictest drunk driving laws in the nation, but that isn’t stopping the MADD and their pit bull followers ( follow the money) from wanting to charge others for serving the drunk bastard.

  14. Susan - November 22, 2006

    Scandinavian countries enforce a ZERO percent blood alcohol level for drivers. Admittedly there is a lot of binge drinking there–my personal experience is limited to Sweden and Norway, and the latter especially seems to harbor big drinkers. But in both countries the people I know use designated drivers without stressing. If it’s your turn you don’t even have half a glass before dinner, no big deal. Sorry, I don’t know exactly what the penalties for DUI are, nor can I quote statistics. But speaking anecdotally, people seem used to the zero alcohol level for drivers and it doesn’t seem to cramp their style.
    I will say that Norway is a terrible place to find a nice pinot. Every kind of alcohol is so expensive that many people distill their own, and it is NOT refined stuff. Sweden, an EU member, is different in this respect.

  15. David - November 22, 2006

    There are so many ways to look at this question and only a few are valid for the prohibitionists.
    The #1 argument is why the US religious culture demonizes alcohol instead of accepting it as a part of life and teaching kids to drink responsibly. My 4 kids have had water-downed wine since they were very little, they do not drink except an occassional glass of wine at dinner;
    Regulating or making illegal certain things only increases their use.
    Why do we need to drive a car when drunk?
    Why do US teenage kids feel the need to get totally wasted just as soon as parents are no longer around?
    I think MADD is like religion, there are some people inside who actually believe in what they are doing but the organization is just a money making device.

  16. genevelynsteele - November 22, 2006

    So glad you got my “idiotic” argument. That’s the point. I believe that laws can be passed to excess, even when ennacted for the best of reasons(like protecting children), and the legislature of alcohol consumption is a slippery slope. No, I do not want drivers with a BAC of .08( or drivers on cell phones)hitting children—but I also do not want to go back to Prohibition-era legislation. The best thing we can do is learn to drink/drive/surf/talk responsibly and teach our children how to do these things responsibly. Guns, cars, cell phones and computers are all weapons in the hands of someone who isn’t thinking clearly because they are under the influence. It is not feasible to put locks on everything.
    Your passion is admirable–but I find it antagonistic to ask a baiting question about whether or not someone has children when you can read on the same page that the original post is on that Tom is a father.

  17. WineBoy! - November 22, 2006

    I have lived in Germany and they don’t have a zero alcohol level for driving, but do strictly enforce the laws. Germany also has very liberal alcohol access and getting a drink is as easy as walking out your doorstep. But, in Germany if you drink and drive the only person responsible is the jerk who gets into his car drives drunk (.o8 or higher). In this country we want everyone else to be responsible for the deaths of drunk drivers. I would like to add that more people are killed by drowsy driving than drunk driving and that despite all the horrible accidents in the news this country has come a long way in fighting chronic, alcholic drunk drivers. But, it still alarms me when I see someone who is arrested with 3, 4 and 5 dwi arrests and some people think that a ignition interlock device is going to stop someone who is obviously driving on a revoked license and doesn’t give a damn. The focus should be on the repeat offenders who have no respect for the law or the lives of others. However, MADD has been proposing laws that would limit and even mandate punishments for drinking above .15 bac in establishments even if the person doesn’t drive or even own a car. MADD has also proposed going back to not having alchohol service on Sundays. All clearly anit-alcohol measures that have nothing to do with drinking and driving.

  18. Joe - November 22, 2006

    So nice to see so many comments – I love a good round table.
    Firstly to respond to “JohnG” regarding me calling someone a douche – re-read the guy’s post. And I quote:
    “Funny how MADD is ran by a girly man.
    How about we drug test every one of the MADD members.
    Are they racist, another way to receive Government money with out having to do anything. A bunch of lazy people looking for free hand outs.” End quote.
    C’mon – the guy’s a total douche with no real grasp of the English language. BTW: lest you think I’m a total douche, I enjoy your wine blog. Simple and to the point. Nicely done.
    Secondly; “Ken Payton”, it was uber nifty how you mashed together my name and some Jimmy Hendrix lyrics – I’ve never heard that one before. And what’s up with your vitriolic rant towards me? I’m just expressing an opinion and asking some thought provoking questions. Who would have thought that I would have offended you and your “civilized drinking” sensibilities. I’ll remember the next time I’m at a bar or have friends over that anyone who requests an alcholic beverage other than wine is a barbarian.
    BTW: Your assertion that “vodka gin and tequila…lead to the vast majority of alcohol related accidents” is pure fiction. From the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety FAQ;
    “6. Are beer and wine less impairing than hard liquor? Impairment is not determined by the type of drink but rather by the amount of alcohol ingested over a specific period of time. There is a similar amount of alcohol in such standard drinks as a 12-ounce glass of beer, a 4-ounce glass of wine, and 1.25 ounces of 80-proof liquor. Beer is the most common drink consumed by people stopped for alcohol-impaired driving or involved in alcohol-related crashes.”
    And lest you think the IIHS is not a credible source, they are qouting directly from a study done by the Journal of Studies on Alcohol.
    Thirdly (this is fun): Maybe it was a little harsh to call your argument “idiotic” genevelynstelle; I just thought it was poorly constructed. Also, my “passion” isn’t for MADD or even stopping drunk driving – it’s more about my kids. See, I can sympathize with an organization filled with (or at least started by) a group of persons that lost a child senselessly. I just think it’s a little insensitive to paint an entire organization with the same brush. A lot of good has come from MADD, or GLADD or any “ADD” organization for that matter. But just like the Republican party, it only takes a few zealots to ruin the bunch. (Can’t wait to get a reaction from that one.)
    It’s funny to me how I’m the one who is apparently on a soap box here, considering I had two glasses of wine at a restaurant last night and then drove home. I’m just having some fun playing devil’s advocate.

  19. Ken Payton - November 22, 2006

    Your need for attention is tiresome. Surprisingly, this blog is not about you. I suggest MySpace. Go there and make some friends.
    Happy Thanksgiving.

  20. Whit Stevens - November 22, 2006

    Imbibers should be concerned about MADD’s true intentions. They were initially against drunk driving, but are now against drinking and driving. These are two different things. Certainly, I agree that driving drunk (severely impaired by alcohol) is a bad idea. But I do not believe one should be forced to follow the phrase “Don’t Drink and Drive”, which implies that it is never safe to drive after having a drink.
    For a frustrating story on zero-tolerance in action, check out: . The article summarizes the struggles of a women arrested for drunk driving in our DC. She’d only had one drink.
    Also, here’s a blog about DUI laws: . I can’t vouch for it though, as I just came across it today.

  21. Joe - November 22, 2006

    Ahhh – how quaint. What Ken and I seem to have going here is a good old fashioned “Internet Feud” whereby Ken responds to my posts that included real thoughts, opinions and facts with responses tantamount to, “Uh, huh huh – you’re lame, or something”. Okay, so I have a few options afforded me now.
    1. Recoil in shame at being outed by Ken as a seeker of attention and find solace in random “friends” at MySpace who revel in my witty banter and use of big words.
    2. Lash out irrationally.
    3. Espouse more facts and figures and use even bigger words in the hopes that everyone who reads this will surely come to conclusion that I am WAY smarter than Ken.
    4. See the error of my ways (kind of like Ken did here; and apologize for my obvious ignorance.
    Nah – I like this option:
    5. Rejoin reality where people don’t use the comment section of a blog to vent their passive agression towards others.
    I could probably go another round, but that would only help to fuel your self importance.

  22. Ken Payton - November 22, 2006

    Play Misty for me.

  23. Article On Teens Drinking And Driving - March 2, 2007

    Article On Teens Drinking And Driving

    Trying to walk a straight line or even kicking a Conner escaped losing her crown early Tuesday It s

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