Until the 1970s, the laws and penalties for drunk driving were pretty lax. But as the number of crashes and fatalities associated with driving while under the influence (DUI) began to rise, laws began to become more strict.
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Drunk driving is a national problem that affects everyone. It costs taxpayers billions of dollars each year and impacts the lives of everyone involved, from the victims to those who are responsible for the crash.
MADD is founded in 1980 by a mother who lost her daughter to a drunk driver and decided to do something about it. Candy Lightner was determined to make a difference and she put all of her energy into bringing attention to the problem of drunk driving.
The organization was quickly able to garner support from other groups in California and throughout the country as well. As a result of her dedication, she was able to change the laws in her home state and take that momentum to the national stage where she held her first press conference October 2, 1980.
At that press conference, MADD introduced the concept of “friends don’t let friends drive drunk.” This became a household term and helped to raise awareness of the serious issue of drunk driving.
By 1982, the number of fatalities attributed to DUI had reached 21,113. Although this is a decrease from the previous years, it still represents an alarming rate of deaths.
Since then, it has been a constant struggle to get the laws against drunk driving as tough as they are today. It can be a costly undertaking, but it is imperative to keep our communities safe.
Changing the definition of drunk driving is an important part of that effort. While it is still illegal in all states to drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher, the definition has changed over time and now includes any type of drug or substance that can impair a driver’s ability to operate a vehicle safely.
MADD has a strong presence in many state capitals, and has developed an extensive network of volunteers to help them make the case for better DUI laws. This has included holding candlelight vigils to honor those who have been killed by a drunk driver and working with local politicians to get policies in place that protect the public’s safety.
Another effective strategy is to use sobriety checkpoints to reduce the risk of drunk driving. These checkpoints are staffed by law enforcement personnel and can catch a driver under the influence while driving at lower speeds.
The police can use a breathalyzer test to determine whether a driver is intoxicated. These tests are more accurate than field sobriety testing and can provide a more reliable measurement of a driver’s level of intoxication.
However, these devices can also be faulty. Some machines can read the alcohol level in a person’s blood at levels that aren’t realistic. This can cause false readings and result in legal violations. This is why a number of states have banned the use of these devices.