MADD Mad About New Drunk Driving Campaign

NHTSA-DWI/DUILast August the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration unveiled a new anti-drunk driving slogan: ‘Drunk Driving. Over the Limit. Under Arrest.’ The national organization Mothers Against Drunk Driving is now taking offense to the new campaign.

It was noted in an earlier blog on this site that the slogan was coined after input from the American Beverage Institute, an organization promoting the responsible serving of alcohol to adults. The intent of the new NHTSA campaign was to show the need for knowing one’s limits and obligations before getting behind the wheel while acknowledging responsible social drinking is acceptable. It is legal to drive in all 50 states with a blood-alcohol content below .08.

MADD feels the slogan implies it is ok to drink and drive, as long as one does not exceed the legal BAC limit. The organization feels drivers can and are impaired at lower BAC levels. That attitude has been reflected in numerous police enforcement efforts across the country. A woman was arrested in the Washington, D.C. area even after a breath test result was only .03, well below the legal limit. The arresting officer cited a zero tolerance policy whenever alcohol is detected. DWI defense lawyer Shawn Brown of San Antonio, Texas has noted an increase in clients arrested for DWI with a blood-alcohol content less than .08. "Should a police officer stop you, for whatever reason, and determine the presence of alcohol, the likelihood that you will be arrested is very high," he says. He went on to say that this can and does occur even when there are no signs of impairment, which is why DWI defense attorneys often advocate refusal of breath, blood and field sobriety tests. When alcohol is detected, even passing such tests does not mean a driver will be released.

The state of Texas, along with Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Iowa and Oregon, has decided to add its own slogan to the new NHTSA message. The stricter ‘Drink. Drive. Go to Jail’ slogan has been used in Texas for more than 7 years and it still figures prominently in advertising and public relations efforts.

Pete Eagan, a MADD representative, says drivers "should not be lulled into thinking it’s ok to drive right up to the limit of .08 blood alcohol content, the standard for presuming a driver is drunk."

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