MADD--Mothers Against Drunk Driving

by Margo Harvey; Editor | Mar 24, 2015
MADD--Mothers Against Drunk Driving From its humble beginnings more than 34 years ago, MADD has evolved into one of the most widely supported and well-liked non-profit organizations in America. Candy Lightner founded MADD in 1980 following the death of her 13-year-old daughter, Cari, in Fair Oaks, Calif., on May 3. Cari was walking to a school carnival when a drunk driver struck her from behind. The driver had three prior drunk driving convictions and was out on bail from a hit-and-run arrest two days earlier.

MADD's mission is to stop drunk driving, to support victims of this violent crime, and to prevent underage drinking. MADD devotes a great deal of energy and resources toward serving victims. Although there are some differences in the level of support that MADD chapters are able to provide to drunk driving victims, all chapters provide certain basic services. Some of these services include providing appropriate literature (for a list of literature, see the MADD, National website), assistance with submitting applications for Crime Victims' Compensation, and referral to other appropriate agencies.

What to do if you are a victim of drunk driving:

Call your local MADD chapter.

Contact the investigating law enforcement agency which covered your crash (for example, the Department of Public Safety, local police department or sheriff's office) and request a copy of the crash report.

Find out if you are eligible to receive Crime Victims' Compensation. For more information, you may either call your local MADD chapter or call the Victims of Crime Compensation Board at 973-648-2107 or 800-242-0804. They are available at 50 Park Place, Newark, NJ 07102 or on the internet at Examples of some of the costs which may be compensated are: medical, prescription and rehabilitation expenses; lost wages; mental health counseling for victims and family members; funeral expenses; and loss of earnings or support.

Since its founding, MADD has helped pass more than 2,300 anti-drunk driving and underage drinking laws. MADD was instrumental in the passage of the national 21 minimum drinking age law in 1984, as well as the 1995 "zero tolerance" provision of the National Highway Systems Law making it illegal for those under 21 to drive after consuming alcohol. In 2000, MADD helped pass a federal drunk driving limit of .08 percent blood alcohol concentration, and is working to pass .08 BAC laws in the 31 states that do not yet have this law. MADD also advocates for passage of a federal constitutional amendment for victims' rights and stricter penalties for repeat and higher-risk drunk driving offenders, in addition to other key legislation in states across the country.

Whether it's in the smallest chapter or in the national board, MADD's accomplishments are fueled by passionate and energetic volunteers. If you would like to join them in our mission, get involved with your local chapter. There are plenty of local chapters throughout South Jersey, so no matter where you live in Jersey, there is a local chapter that serves you.

MADD's National Programs Department specializes in developing and maintaining public awareness programs at the chapter, state, and national level, involving the community as a whole in supporting MADD's mission. The department continually looks for new ways for MADD to reach a diverse population, with particular attention focused on helping youth.

One of these programs is the Designate a Driver Program. This program asks that motorists to commit a labor of love by designating a driver for celebrations. The program is easy and anyone can participate. If your celebrations include the drinking of alcoholic beverages, simply plan ahead and designate a driver.

The focus of the 'Designate a Driver' program has expanded this public awareness campaign to a direct call-to-action at locations where alcohol is being served. As part of this expansion, MADD has created a new set of posters and table tents to remind adults who drink to make the right decision and designate a driver. The program focuses on the four deadliest holidays of the year: Labor Day, Holiday Season (November 24 - January 2), St. Patrick's Day, and Memorial Day. However, the Designate a Driver program can be used any time when people plan to leave home and drink alcoholic beverages, ensuring a safe ride home.

What does the designated driver do? Drinks only non-alcoholic beverages, and provides safe and sober transportation home for companions. What can you do? Ask your local MADD chapter for Designate a Driver lapel pins or stickers. Set up a Designate a Driver system with your friends for all occasions. Why be a designated driver? To be the "life insurance" for your group's trip home. To help friends avoid embarrassment, keep their licenses, avoid fines and jail time.

You can contact MADD's NJ State Office at
P.O. BOX 3386
Hoboken, New Jersey 07030
Phone: 609-409-1220

For more MADD New Jersey information, go to For national information, go to

Updated 3/22/15

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For more on local Organizations, visit our South Jersey Organizations page.

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Author: Margo Harvey; Editor


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