MADD–First Time Offenders Rarely First-Time Drunk Drivers
Posted on February 28th, 2014 by Zane Cagle
Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) made an interesting claim about first-time offenders in a recent article discussing a Wisconsin annual report. “‘First-time’ offenders are rarely first-time drunk drivers”, according to MADD in early February of this year. “Conservative estimates show that first-time convicted OWI offender has driven drunk at least 80 times prior to being arrested.” MADD continued: “According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, a majority of drunk driving deaths and injuries are caused by drunk driving offenders with no prior convictions.”
MADD spoke out advocating for a greater push for the use of in-vehicle breath tests, sobriety checkpoints and other measures. In Wisconsin, first-time offenders face no criminal liability upon the first conviction yet MADD national office argues that first-timers are the majority of fatal crash and injury drunk driving crashes. Depending on the state you live in, first-time offenses can vary from no criminal charges to fairly strict charges.
In Missouri, DWI penalties range with the first offense being classified as a Class B Misdemeanor and 8 points are added to your Missouri Driving Record, may result in 6 months jail time and you may pay fines up to $500 and your license suspended for 30 days with a 60 day restricted driving period to follow if you are an adult driver, and your license may be suspended for 90 days if you are under 21 years of age. A second DUI is a Class A Misdemeanor and you are deemed a “Prior Offender” A third DUI conviction earns you a Class D Felony charge and the title of “Persistent Offender”
MADD relied on statements in the “Alcohol Traffics Facts” booklet published in 2003 by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. The WisDOT study found that over a 12-year period of time from 1991-2002, three out of four drivers who had been drinking before a fatal or serious-injury crash had not prior convictions for OWI on their Wisconsin record. “Drivers who have previously been convicted of one or more OWI offenses d not comprise the bulk of drivers in fatal and non-fatal serious injury crashes involving drinking and driving,” WisDOT
Nationally, the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) says that 93 percent of drivers in fatal crashes with a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 or higher had no previous drunken driving convictions in three years.
Why look at reports out of Wisconsin? Often trends in one state hold true in another state. In Missouri, MADD reports that 280 or 34 percent of all total traffic deaths, a 8.5% increase in drunk driving fatalities. As well, in 2012, there were 3268 alcohol related crash injuries (.01 BAC or higher) and 5256 alcohol related crashes of a BAC of .01 or higher. There were 9870 DUI arrests and 5741 DUI convictions.
In 2012, Missouri became the 18th state to require ignition interlocks for all convicted drunk drivers….that law goes into effect next month.
Illinois all offender interlock law went into effect in 2009 and has helped reduce drunk driving deaths by 22 percent, according to MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving).
MADD’s campaign is a three-prong approach to raise awareness and reduce the number of drunk driving related fatalities and serious injury crashes by 1) Supporting Our Heroes 2) Sober to Start and 3) Secure the Future
Supporting Our Heroes
According to MADD, officers spend long hours with low pay, dealing with difficult situations and put themselves in danger on a daily basis and some pay the ultimate price by giving their lives. Forty-four percent of the officers killed in the line of duty were killed in traffic crashes. MADD supports sobriety checkpoints and the campaign of Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over. MADD devotes time and resources to supporting the officers who work diligently to keep roadways safe and deter drinking and driving.
Sober to Start
The average drunk driver has driving drunk 80 times before a first arrest and on any given day, you or your family member may be sharing the road with more than 2 million drunk drivers who have had three or more prior convictions. While suspending the license of these repeat offenders makes sense, in reality, three out of four of these individuals with suspended license continue to drive, threatening the safety of you and your loved ones. Thus, MADD supports the ignition interlock devices to require all convicted drunk drivers to prove they are sober before the car will start. Currently, 20 states require interlocks for all offenders. Missouri is one of those states beginning implementation in next month, March 2014
Secure the Future
In 2006, MADD, the government, traffic safety advocates and members of the automotive industry created a panel to encourage and support the development of new technology that would stop drivers from operating a vehicle if drunk. A generation ago, no one would have believed in air bags that could save lives or engines that would shut down as part of anti-theft, thus DADSS or Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety are working through technological advances to work toward a nation free of drunk driving.
Two technologies are being developed. One is touch-based system that can read your blood alcohol concentration through your fingertips and the other is an air-sampling system that can test and isolate just the air exhaled by the driver. Both of these technologies are well on their way to being tested in actual vehicles.
Car accidents can happen in just a few seconds to the best of drivers depending on circumstances and other driver behavior. Adding alcohol to the equation is negligent. If someone climbs behind the wheel after they have consumed alcohol, they are making a choice to drive to be negligent. Our attorneys see the tragic results daily of victims of car accidents where a drunk driver was involved. If you have been hit by a drunk driver, you will need legal assistance. Unfortanately, just because someone is convicted of drunk driving and faces criminal charges, it does not mean that you will be compensated for your medical bills, lost wages or damages. In order to receive compensation for these things, you generally have to get an attorney and file a civil claim against that driver and his/her insurance company. This is not always the situation, but proves true most of the time. We are expert car accident attorneys and represent car accident victims in Missouri and Illinois. If you are unsure about whether you need legal representation, we offer free consultations to review your case. Call us seven days a week (800)685-3302 or locally (314) 276-1681.
Sources: A Majority of Drunk Driving Deaths and Injuries are Caused by Drunk Driving Offenders with No Prior Convictions. Journal Sentinel PolitiFactWisconsin. February 2014