Mothers Against Drunk Driving

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Mothers Against Drunk Driving
Ownership type Public, NASDAQ:MSFT
Founded 1980, by Candice Lightner
Headquarters 511 East John Carpenter Freeway, Suite 700
Irving , Texas
United States

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) which was founded by Candice Lightner in 1980, is an organisation who's main goal is to eliminate drunk driving in United States by the use of education, fundraising, and law enforcement.


In May of 1980 Candace Lightner started MADD after thirteen year old daughter was killed in a hit and run accident by a drunk driver in Fair Oaks, California. When it became known to Lightner that the driver was a repeat offender of driving while intoxicated (DWI) she took action and set up the organization. The aim of this group was to build awareness about the dangers of drunk driving and pass laws against the crime.

In 1980, the year MADD was founded, drunk driving behavior was an extremely overlooked issue that was generally accepted at the time. That mentality explains why there were approximately 30,000 deaths in America caused by alcohol-related traffic incidents. At the time they were just as their name suggests, they were mad. They were mad at politicians who had knowledge if the statistics but did not act on them. Because of this they challenged a society that viewed drinking and driving as acceptable, an industry that valued profit over safety, and a government that entirely neglected the issue. This caused the inspiration of many others to get involved. Thousands more people rose up to support MADD’s goal of safety. In 1983 a movie about Lightner's situation was aired on television. After the movie aired publicity for MADD skyrocketed.

One of the first issues that was tackled by MADD was the legal drinking age. Early on teens who lived in New Jersey were able to drive to New York to purchase alcohol, where the legal age to buy was 18 years old. This issue was what originally caught the eyes of the United States Congress. In 1984 they passed the National Minimum Drinking Age Act. This is considered to be one of MADD’s greatest achievements the act called for twenty-one to be the legal drinking age limit.

In 1985 Candice Lightner decided to resign from her position within the organization. She had become disgruntled with the direction the organization was heading in. Lightner started MADD to combat drunk driving and drunk driving issues alone. Later down the road the organization began to attack underage drinking issues, like the legal age limit. She stated that MADD had turned into a “neo-prohibitionist” group attacking the issues of consumption rather than DWIs. Candice Lightner's original intention for starting MADD was to focus on preventing and hopefully eliminating drunk driving incidents and fatalities. Now the organization focuses more on the prevention of underage drinking, which by all means is an important issue in America, but is not what the original intention was.

Current objectives and activities

Nearly thirty years ago, Candice Lightner made a pledge in her deceased daughter’s bedroom to take a stand against the outrage of drunk driving. This decision quickly inspired a handful of determined mothers to join in the fight as well. According to the group’s website,, the mission or purposes of MADD as stated in its Articles of Incorporation were “To aid the victims of crimes performed by individuals driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, to aid the families of such victims and to increase public awareness of the problem of drinking and drugged driving. The goal of Mothers Against Drunk Driving was and still is to eliminate drunk driving through education and the enforcement of laws. Along with that, MADD also supports the victims involved in drunk driving incidents. This includes family members from both the innocent and guilty parties. MADD They also works to maintain the age of twenty-one as the legal age for consumption. It is because of them that twenty-one is the legal limit across the entire nation.

MADD’s campaign for the elimination of drunk driving focuses on four major components. These components consist of: highly-publicized law enforcement efforts; implementing current alcohol ignition interlock technologies; exploring advanced vehicle technologies; and mobilizing public support. Ignition interlock technologies are devices that are hooked up to the engine of your car. Every time you go to start your car, you need to blow into a tube, and if it detects any amount of alcohol on your breath the vehicle will not start. These machines would be installed in all drunk driving offenders' vehicles in order to prevent any chances of another accident.

In 1984 MADD updated its mission statement to "Mothers Against Drunk Driving provides grassroots leadership to create major social change in the attitude and behavior of Americans toward drunk driving." In 1985 Candice Lightner resigned from her position with MADD. She had become disgruntled with the direction the organization was going in. She stated that MADD had turned into more of a “neo-prohibitionist” group than DUI Prevention. Candice Lightner started MADD for the soul purpose of preventing, and hopefully eliminating, drunk driving incidents and fatalities. Now the organization focuses more on the prevention of underage drinking, which is an important issue in America but doesn't reflect the original focus of the organization.

They currently are continuing research on ways to educate teens, prevent adolescent usage of alcohol, and at the same time are pushing for new legislation to be passed, all of which is funded by various sources. The government, corporations, educators, media, and public are all sources that support MADD in its fight.

Organizational structure

MADD is currently based in Irving, Texas. Currently the Chief Executive officer is Charles A. Hurley and its new president as of July 2008 is Laura Dean Mooney. Their national board of directors is made up entirely of volunteers. Many became involved with MADD by volunteering their time and effort at local MADD offices within their communities. Key leaders in the organization along with some celebrities offer their support to the group as well.

The organizations spending is divided up with seventy-eight percent program expenses, seven percent administrative expenses, and fourteen percent going towards fundraising programs. rates their efficiency at four out of five stars. Its capacity rating is only at one star making its overall rating one as well. It also states that MADD’s total revenue the past year came out to $44,411,149, and their total expenses came out to $45,736,109. There are no payments made to affiliates of the organization because it is non-profit. According to the Obama-Coburn Federal Funding Accountability act, MADD received $56,814 in funds from the government in 2000. Between the years 2001 and 2006 the organization had gained a total of $9,593,45 in funding.


Since 1980 drunk driving fatalities have been reduced by over 40 percent. Looking at statistics from that year, that is more than 330,000 lives that have been saved. MADD has also successfully helped establish .08 as the legal blood alcohol content level (bac) for every state in the United States and has maintained 21 as the legal age for consumption.

MADD argued the fact that the brain does not stop developing until the early twenties, the consumption of alcohol can cause damages in brain development. MADD cites NHTSA data showing that the 21 minimum drinking age law has saved 17,000 lives since 1988.

In 1990, MADD Canada was founded.

In 1991, MADD released, for the first of five times, its "Rating the States" report. This report evaluated each state revealing the progress it had made in fighting drunk driving.

In 2000, MADD pushed to make .08 the legal BAC limit all across the country.

The law was passed by Congress and by 2005 for every state to have the illegal .08 BAC limit.

In 2001, the NHTSA's Fatality Analysis Reporting System estimated an annual total of 17,448 alcohol-related deaths. MADD believes this to be the result of their efforts.

MADD also feels that the group's efforts have brought about the major decrease inn alcohol related deaths in the country. They claim alcohol-related fatalities declined more than non-alcohol-related fatalities.

In 2005 alcohol related deaths per year have declined from 26,173 in 1982 to 16,885.

Public perception and controversies

MADD’s aggressive lobbying towards fighting underage drinking has been criticized time and time again. One major issue that comes up is the legal drinking age of twenty-one. Since eighteen is the age where people are legally considered adults, it is argued that the drinking age should be the same. At the age of eighteen people can vote, join the military, contract real estate, and are punished as adults under the law but they cannot drink. It is an issue that has been argued for a long time.

Another issue is that MADD reports that it spends seventeen percent of its budget on fundraising. That amount is below average for an advocacy organization that is immensely dependent on numerous individual contributions. This raises suspicions because although it is a grassroots organization, it still raises more than other groups funded by corporations. MADD has constantly received bad ratings by The American Institute of Philanthropy for its Bureaucratic and fundraising costs.