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Mothers Against Drunk Driving

Mothers Against Drunk Driving, also widely known as MADD is an anti-drunk driving organization founded in 1980 by Candace Lightner, who led the organization until 1985.  MADD was founded with the mission of increasing public awareness of the dangers of drunk driving.  The mission of MADD as stated on its website is:

The mission of Mothers Against Drunk Driving is to stop drunk driving, support the victims of this violent crime and prevent underage drinking.

Lightner founded the organization to deal with drunk driving however as the organization evolved it started to deal with the issue of alcohol as a whole which was not Lightner's original intention.  Lightner did note in recent years however that MADD has begun shifting back toward its roots of countering drunk driving rather than alcohol in general.

Funding Controversies

In recent years there have been multiple controversies with not only the way that MADD raises funds but how its funds are distributed. In general charitiese should spend no more than 40% of their budget on fundraising and administrative costs.  This gives it an average rating according to  Very sound and reputable organizations should aim for a ration of 25% spent on admin and fundraising and 75% going directly to the cause of the charity.

At one point Mothers Against Drunk Driving was paying telemarketing companies a commission of 50% on all money raised through their telemarketing efforts. In concert with this finding, the next decade saw the American Institute of Philanthropy drop MADD down to a 'D' from a 'C' in 2005.  The negative reports continued into 2009 as MADD spent nearly half of its 40 million dollar income on the salaries of its staff - a hugely disproportionate amount in relation to other charities of similar size.


MADD has been involved heavily in legislation on a national basis in relation to alcohol. MADD was one of the primary lobbyists in getting all 50 states to drop the legal blood alcohol content limit to .08 from as high as .15.  It also has been heavily involved in instituting lower and no-tolerance laws for those under the age of 21.

Victim Impact Panels are also heavily supported by MADD.  Studies and experience have both shown that being on VIPs and being allowed to speak in court before offenders are sentenced helps victims heal and overcome tragedies caused by drunk drivers.  Additionally, MADD receives some of its funding from VIPs in some states while other states do not allow offenders to be charged to attend.

MADD has also heavily favored random roadblocks stating that those who oppose them are concerned about getting caught drinking and driving. 

In another controversy MADD supports the increase of the excise tax on beer while not doing so for liquor. MADD argues that the excise tax on beer is lower than that on an equivalent amount of liquor, however, critics note that the liquor industry has contributed significant funds to MADD while the beer industry has not.

MADD has grown from a one-woman movement sparked by the death of Lightner's 13 year daughter to a charitable organization with a multi-million dollar budget and a worldwide impact. Regardless of controversy noone can argue about the impact of MADD on drunk driving in the last 30 years.







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