Social Policy Decisions Paper


Social Policy Decisions Paper

SocialPolicy Decisions Paper

Mothersagainst Drunk Driving

Mothersagainst Drunk Driving is a non governmental organization in NorthAmerica, united states that was created to deal with the problem ofdriving under the influence of alcohol and provide assistance toindividuals directly affected by drunk driving. However, over theyears, the organization has been involved campaigns against underagedrinking and irresponsible drinking in the American society. Theorganization was established in 1980 has had significant influence onsocial perception about drunk driving. Additionally, the organizationhas been able to influence policy and laws related to driving underthe influence of alcohol at both state and federal level. Initially,mother against drunk driving was started by people directly affectedby drunk driving with an admirable goal of reducing fatalitiesassociated with driving under the influence of alcohol. Theorganization used varies methods to educate the public in the UnitedStates and Canada on the devastation and suffering caused by drivingunder the influence of alcohol and the dangers associated with drunkdrivers on the road. By late 1990s, the effects on the numerouscampaigns launched by the organization were very visible. This wasthrough the increased awareness in the general population thatdriving under the influence of alcohol is bad. Additionally, therewere several laws in different states in the United States thatillegalized driving under the influence of alcohol (Fell &amp Voas,2006).

Motheragainst Drunk Driving was established to deal with a genuine socialproblem that had huge impacts in the society. By identifying victimsof road accidents in the 1970s and early 1980s, the founders of theorganization identify that driving under the influence of alcohol wasa major cause of accident. Some of the founders of the organizationhad been affected by drunk driving directly or indirectly.Nonetheless, the relationship between drunk driving and accident canbe traced back to the early 20thcentury when the automotive industry was less developed. As early as1904, alcohol was associated with undesirable incidence amongoperators of motorized wagons. However, significant scientificresearch on the impacts of driving under the influence of alcoholemerged several decades later. Additionally government andlegislative intervention was a late entrant. Attempts by thegovernment in the United States to regulate driving under theinfluence of alcohol emerged in the 1960s. Nonetheless, it isimportant to note that limited public knowledge on impaired drivingassociated with alcohol negatively affected the formulation ofrelevant laws and their enforcement. In the 1970s, accidents wereassociated with driver error although the chance event associatedwith ‘accidents’ was emphasized. However, in the late 1970s andearly 1980s, the reality of the risks associated with the presence ofdrunk drivers in the roads became more visible. This resulted intocitizen activism aimed at removing these drivers from the roads (Fell&amp Voas, 2006).

Oneof the most important contributions of Mother against Drunk Drivingis lobbying for legislation of laws that illegalize drunk driving.Two years after the organization was established, it participated ina presidential commission on drunk driving in 1982. The organizationpushed for legislation on drunk driving by lobbying law makers at thestate level as well as relevant government officials. In the 1980s,Mothers against Drunk Driving pushed for the establishment of“sobriety checkpoint” in the United States. Despite legalargument against them, their legality was affirmed by the court inthe “Michigan State Police v. Sitz case” in 1990. They alsoplayed an important role in the enactment of the “federal minimumlegal drinking age 21 act of 1984. In the 1990s, the organizationlobbied for the enactment of laws such as the zero tolerance law thatruled than underage drivers should not be allowed to drive with anyamount of alcohol in their system. This was based on the findingsthat underage drivers are more likely to cause accident when drunkcompared to adult drivers. Although this law complemented the“Federal Minimum Legal Drinking Age 21 Act”, the zero tolerancewas emphasized by “The National Highway System Designation Act of1995”. Mothers against Drunk Driving were also significantlyinvolved in the reduction of BAC (blood alcohol content) from .10 to.08. This is the amount of alcohol in a person body that isconsidered to have impairingimpact. The organization has also influence numerous state laws thatare related to drunk drivers (Fell &amp Voas, 2006).

Dueto the success of the organization in public education and lobbyingfor legislation on drinking under the influence of alcohol, Mothersagainst Drunk Driving had turned its focus in promoting responsibledrinking. The original mandate of the organization was to protect theyoung people, but this has changed significantly. This is due to theunfortunate observation that majority of youths in the modern societyobtain alcohol from adults and in some cases their parents. Theincreased focus on alcohol consumption in general by the organizationhas resulted into intense criticism. Despite criticism, Mothersagainst Drunk Driving believe that irresponsible drinking is a majorchallenge facing the modern society (Fell &amp Voas, 2006).


Fell,J. &amp Voas, R. (2006). “Mothers against drunk driving (MADD): The first 25 years”. Trafficinjury prevention 7,p 195-212.