Improving Drunk Driving Enforcement, Part 2

MADD seeks to stand behind the law enforcement community and work tirelessly to provide support for their life-saving work. Its Web site includes examples of best practice programs, awards and recognition, in memoriam, templates of proposed laws, major DUI court cases, personal profiles, upcoming events and alerts, and a message board for questions and answers. Law enforcement agencies are encouraged to add a link to their Web sites for faster access to MADD’s law enforcement Web site pages.

According to Cathey Wise, MADD national director of programs, “Supporting law enforcement at the local, state and national levels is fundamental for MADD. From the smallest to the largest agencies in America, we value the work of our partners in law enforcement and pledge to help in every way we can.” Wise recently gave resource materials to MADD’s 600 affiliates to provide local staff and volunteers with ideas and examples of ways to establish, maintain and grow relationships with local enforcement agencies.

Working with law enforcement at the community level is a priority of MADD chapters across the nation. In addition to serving as victim advocates for individual officers who have been personally impacted in drunk-driving cases (or for survivor family members), assistance from MADD also can include participation at sobriety checkpoints, community and media support. Many local chapters hold annual recognition events to acknowledge and applaud excellence in deterring and arresting impaired drivers by local enforcement agencies and individual officers.

School resource officers can take advantage of MADD’s award-winning school assembly shows ( to reach teens with positive messages of health and safety. Shown on a massive, 15-foot by 40-foot screen, the newest assembly program, The SPOT, encourages teens to take a hard look at the places and people they hang out with and to surround themselves with positives influences, not harmful substances.

Another local underage prevention program by MADD is the Youth in Action (YIA) effort, a program that trains young people to assist the enforcement community in the difficult work of stopping underage drinking. YIA teams focus on environmental advocacy—addressing local attitudes and policies that too often condone underage drinking.

Specific activities include vendor-compliance checks for alcohol sales and shoulder tap surveys to see how willing local adults are to buy alcohol for teens. YIA teams currently are in place in Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.

MADD also plans to build upon research from the National Academy of Sciences to prevent underage drinking by working with law enforcement, government officials and other anti-drunk-driving advocates across the United States to reduce binge drinking among those 16 to 20 years old by 5% by 2008. MADD continues to support the Sober Truth on Preventing Underage Drinking Act (STOP), a bill up for consideration by Congress, which directs major policy development to prevent underage drinking.

Law Enforcement Excellence

MADD Orange County, CA and law enforcement agencies in Orange County have the type of working relationship that could be considered model. The MADD affiliate’s staff and volunteers support law enforcement efforts at sobriety check points, as a community partner in law enforcement-led coalitions and school outreach programs, through the media, and at MADD-sponsored victim impact panel presentations.

The Annual Orange County Law Enforcement & Prosecutor Recognition Luncheon is a yearly highlight for MADD Orange County and the area’s 38 law enforcement agencies. Now in its 19th year, the recognition program is hosted by MADD and sponsored by the California Office of Traffic Safety and a major corporate sponsor.

At the yearly event, MADD recognizes the outstanding efforts of individual officers and local prosecutors who go the extra mile for traffic safety and victim support. Officers who arrest at least 100 DUI offenders during a one-year period are given Century Awards. The Orange County MADD affiliate also presents officer-recognition awards at city council meetings and roll call briefings.

More than 300 people attended the annual luncheon, including the award-winning officers and their families, mayors and council members of local municipalities, state assembly members, representatives from the California Highway Patrol Regional Command, Orange County Sheriff’s Office, local police chiefs, district attorney offices, impaired driving victims.

“MADD is honored to recognize these dedicated officers who work so hard day in and day out to protect motorists from the tragedy impaired driving can cause,” said Reidel Post, MADD Orange County executive director. “I am positive the level of enforcement excellence demonstrated by these officers and thousands more like them across our nation results in real lives saved real families preserved.”

Lieutenant Karl Schuler of the Costa Mesa, CA Police Department encourages other enforcement agencies to take advantage of the resources MADD can offer to an agency’s impaired driving enforcement program. “Not only can an agency benefit from the motivation and recognition efforts that MADD brings to individual officers, MADD staff and volunteers also can support officers and agencies when dealing with court proceedings, death notification and victim support issues.

Schuler was one of those recognized by MADD Orange County for outstanding efforts. In 1988, Schuler and his former partner, Officer Mike Cohen, led the Costa Mesa Police Department’s record-setting arrest of 430 drunk drivers within a 10-week period.

“We saw a major drop in crashes and injuries after we took these intoxicated drivers off the roadway,” Schuler said.

Costa Mesa Police still believe that the best approach to apprehending impaired drivers is proactive not reactive enforcement. The department has had an active drunk-driving team for 20 years. These two-officer teams work four nights a week from 11 pm to 3 am. They serve as back up for patrol officers who call the drunk-driving teams to the scene after stopping a motorist suspected of impaired driving. “The drunk-driving team helps motive officers to make more arrests by relieving the patrol officers of the paperwork and time requirements an impaired driving stop can take,” Schuler said.

Although some claim that progress in reducing alcohol-related traffic fatalities has been dramatic—from 60% of all crash fatalities (23,173) in 1982 to 39% of all crash fatalities (16,694) in 2004—the gains seen in the mid-1990s have not been duplicated in the past 10 years. In fact, alcohol-related traffic crash fatalities overall have decreased by only 4 percentage points in the past decade, from 43% in 1994 to 39% in 2004.

It’s time for bold, ambitious goals. It’s time for leadership and commitment. It’s time for creativity and unparallel effort by all those who care about saving lives and reducing crash-related injuries. Without a doubt, law enforcement agencies across America can count on MADD’s support to help make these visions reality.

Janet Dewey-Kollen is a longtime traffic safety advocate and has worked at the local, state and national levels. She is also a freelance writer and a child passenger safety technician. She can be contacted with topic requests at

Published in Law and Order, Jun 2006

Rating : Not Yet Rated

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