As a volunteer, I personally spent a great deal of time with the wonderful folks at our local chapter of MADD, while I developed a database system for their Court Monitoring. Like most people, I've been personally effected by those who choose to drink and drive and can not speak highly enough of this organization and the lives they have saved over the past 20+ years.


In California Candace Lightner's thirteen year old daughter Cari was killed by a drunk driver who'd had two drunk driving convictions and was out on bail from another drunk driving crash. He was later sentenced to two years in jail for killing Cari. Outraged, Candace and a group of friends decided to form a group called "Mothers Against Drunk Drivers." Across the country in Maryland Cindi Lamb; the mother of a 5 1/2 month old who ended up a quadriplegic after being hit by another repeat offender who was drunk driving, was also waging her own war against drunk drivers.

Cindi and Candace joined forces and within a year there were 11 chapters of MADD in four states. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration awarded them a $65,000 grant for further chapter development and within a year there were more than 70 chapters in operation. While started by these mothers, over 50% of MADD's members are fathers, brothers, sons etc., this is of course an issue for all of humanity not just mothers.


After a made-for-television movie about MADD was produced by NBC called The Candy Lightner Story, the movement quickly gained momentum with over 122 chapters, in 35 states, opening within a month of the show. By 1990, MADD had over 400 chapters, and had grown internationally with affiliates in Canada, England, Australia and New Zealand.


MADD has a growing number of youth programs including Youth Power Camps, Student Activist Training, Youth In Action, Operation Prom/Graduation, Fake ID and Street Smarts, and the National Youth Summit in Washington, D.C.


MADD ensures that drunk driving offenders are punished to the fullest extent of the law by monitoring court cases and reporting outcomes to the community. Repeat offenders, and judges who are lenient with repeat offenders are tracked. The court work includes Victim Impact Panels where convicted DWI offenders must attend a forum where DWI victims, and previous offenders speak about the impact on their lives and the lives of their families. Court monitoring can be very effective in increasing the likelihood of convictions, decreasing the likelihood of dismissals, and also increasing the length of jail sentences for repeat offenders.


Thousands of federal and state drunk driving laws have been passed over the years, due to the work of MADD. Including the increase of the drinking age to 21 in states throughout the US. The organization also played a huge roll in awareness of having a "designated driver".


1980 Mothers Against Drunk Drivers is established with the first two chapters in California and Maryland.

1982 MADD is invited to serve on the Presidential Task Force on drunk driving.

Congress establishes the first National Drunk and Drugged Driving Awareness Week

1984 Federal "21" minimum drinking age bill is enacted.

MADD goes international when Canada becomes the first country outside of the U.S. to charter a MADD affiliate

MADD changes its name to Mothers Against Drunk Driving and grows to more than 350 chapters.

1985 England and New Zealand charter MADD affiliates.

1986 MADD establishes Victim Assistance Institutes to train volunteers on how to support victims of drunk driving and how to serve as their advocates in the criminal justice system.

Project Red Ribbon is introduced and one million red ribbons are distributed as motorists pledge to drive safe and sober during the Christmas and New Year holidays.

Australia charters MADD affiliate.

1988 Omnibus Anti-Drug Abuse Act is signed. Included in this landmark bill is an amendment extending to all victims of DWI the same compensation rights offered to victims of other crimes. Another amendment creates the Drunk Driving Prevention Act (Section 410) to increase incentives for key state DWI law enactment. Also adopted was the Alcohol Beverage Labeling Act, requiring warnings on alcohol containers.

Impaired Driving Issues Compendium is created and ten companion workshops scheduled to instruct judges, legislators, law enforcement officials and MADD members on how to amend and implement stronger anti-DWI laws.

All 50 states now had passed Age 21 as the minimum legal drinking age.

1990 MADD files an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court over the constitutionality of sobriety checkpoints. Following a hearing, the court rules in favor of checkpoints. MADD later establishes the week of July 4th as National Sobriety Checkpoint Week.

MADD introduces its "20 X 2000" plan to reduce the proportion of traffic fatalities that are alcohol-related by 20 percent by the year 2000.

1991 Congress passed the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA), which included an updated, more accessible Section 410 program to more effectively encourage states to adopt key anti-DUI legislation; MADD had a key role in shaping the program.

The Transportation Employee Testing Safety Act passes, requiring alcohol as well as drug testing of transportation employees in safety-sensitive jobs, including random, pre- employment and post-crash testing. MADD constituents helped turn the tide and secure House action after the Senate had already taken action 11 times.

1993 Fifth state passes a law lowering the legal blood alcohol limit from .10 to .08.

1994 Release of the 1993 Fatal Accident Reporting System statistics reveals that alcohol-related traffic deaths dropped the previous year to a 30-year low; NHTSA credits MADD along with tougher laws.

1997 MADD reached 20 x 2000 goal three years early when the percentage of alcohol-related traffic crashes fell to below 40 percent.

DRIVEN magazine is launched.

MADD hosted the International Candlelight Vigil of Remembrance and Hope at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. There were more than 1,000 participants.

1998 MADD commemorates the tenth anniversary of the Kentucky Bus Crash, the deadliest drunk driving crash in U.S. history killing 27 and injuring 30 others.

U.S. Senate overwhelmingly passes federal .08 bill although House refuses to vote on amendment. Congress adopts a $500 million incentive grant program.

"Zero Tolerance" legislation is passed in all 50 states.

1999 MADD establishes a presence in Guam and Puerto Rico. Two chapters are established in North Dakota, giving MADD a presence in all 50 states.

2000 U.S. Congress passes a national .08 BAC measure as part of the Federal Transportation Appropriations Bill. President Clinton signs the bill into law on October 23, 2000.

2001 The MADD College Commission Report to Address Alcohol's Impact on America's College Campuses is released along with the announcement of MADD's first college MADD chapter.

MADD develops Protecting You/Protecting Me an elementary school curriculum program based on brain research and designed to help children protect themselves and reduce the risks if riding with a driver who has been drinking or other difficult situations.

2002 Protecting You /Protecting Me is officially recognized by the federal government as "a scientifically defensible effective prevention program." MADD?s program is one of only 41 programs to receive this distinction.

To become a volunteer, or get involved call 1-800-GET-MADD

While originally closely linked to MADD, it should be noted that SADD is a seperate organization with different many different objectives, its name is now known as 'Students Against Destructive Decisions.'

Not all countries are as lenient as the US in their drinking and driving laws. El Salvador's first offense for a DUI is death by firing squad. Bulgaria is much more lenient however it takes a second offense before the crime is punishable by death.

For a list of the US DUI laws see:

MADD is not without its controversies, including the resignation of its founder Candy Lightner after she was ousted as CEO. Many have left with the pressure to reduce the legal limit to the point where "any drinking" is not acceptable, not just drunk driving. While it's clear MADD has saved thousands of lives, when even its founder feels it's become 'overzealous' one has to wonder. But I may only be alive to wonder, because my life was spared as a result of MADD, who really knows. The current president Karolyn Nunnallee argues that "many people are dangerously impaired at even .05 BAC - this means if you drink one beer on an empty stomach, you'd be considered impaired. Don't let this turn you against MADD however, the next life they save could be someone you know.


for those not listed dial 911

Really MADD: Looking Back at 20 Years by Janice Lord - DRIVEN magazine, Spring 2000
MADD's Sanction Issues Compendium

FYI - I have not been able to find *anything* to substantiate the claim of the above noder that Candy was arrested for a DUI. You'd think it'd be pretty big news, but I was not able to find one mention of it on the entire internet.

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