MADD: Too many drunk drivers getting off easy

Staff report

WASHINGTON — A new Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Court Monitoring Report shows 61 percent of drunk drivers are convicted of their charges. The nationwide average reflects observations and data collected by MADD court monitors in 12 states from September 1, 2017 to September 1, 2018. The previous year, MADD’s court monitors noted a 68 percent conviction rate. Three additional states have launched Court Monitoring Programs this year as MADD expands its reach into more courtrooms across the country.

Observing courtroom proceedings is a longstanding tradition with MADD. In December 2018, MADD reached 100,000 cases followed as part of the formal Court Monitoring Program that began in 2015. MADD trains staff and volunteers to attend judicial proceedings involving drunk driving cases to ensure laws are being enforced and prosecuted to the fullest extent. The cases that are monitored do not involve injuries or deaths.

“MADD puts monitors in courtrooms to make sure prosecutors and judges know that we are watching. Every case is an opportunity for them to send the message to the offender — and the public — that drunk driving will not be excused or tolerated,” said MADD National President Helen Witty. “We have observed some counties with conviction rates that are well over 80%. Unfortunately, we see about the same number with conviction rates that are under 40%. We need for the judicial process to work and to hold every drunk driver accountable for the wrong and dangerous decision to drink and drive.”

The Court Monitoring Program is part of MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving®, started in 2006, to support law enforcement efforts to protect the public from drunk driving.

Volunteers document every step of the judicial process and enter the disposition, age, gender, outcome and other information about each case. Court monitoring is active in 15 states, including Ohio.

“Placing monitors in courtrooms helps us identify weaknesses so we can communicate our findings to prosecutors and judges. We use the data to tell the story of how drunk driving cases are being handled, and we can tell who takes them seriously,” Witty said. “We believe this important work will help improve the conviction rates of drunk drivers and, finally, help us put an end to this violent crime.”

Staff report