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MADD Report Shows Only 3 of 5 Drunk Drivers Are Convicted

WASHINGTON (May 15, 2019) — A new Mothers Against Drunk Driving® (MADD) Court Monitoring Report shows 61% of drunk drivers are convicted of their charges. The nationwide average reflects observations and data collected by MADD court monitors in 12 states from September 1, 2017 to September 1, 2018. The previous year, MADD’s court monitors noted a 68% conviction rate. Three additional states have launched Court Monitoring Programs this year as MADD expands its reach into more courtrooms across the country.

Observing courtroom proceedings is a longstanding tradition with MADD. In December 2018, MADD reached 100,000 cases followed as part of the formal Court Monitoring Program that began in 2015. MADD trains staff and volunteers to attend judicial proceedings involving drunk driving cases to ensure laws are being enforced and prosecuted to the fullest extent. The cases that are monitored do not involve injuries or deaths.

“MADD puts monitors in courtrooms to make sure prosecutors and judges know that we are watching. Every case is an opportunity for them to send the message to the offender — and the public — that drunk driving will not be excused or tolerated,” said MADD National President Helen Witty. “We have observed some counties with conviction rates that are well over 80%. Unfortunately, we see about the same number with conviction rates that are under 40%. We need for the judicial process to work and to hold every drunk driver accountable for the wrong and dangerous decision to drink and drive.”

The Court Monitoring Program is part of MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving®, started in 2006, to support law enforcement efforts to protect the public from drunk driving.

Volunteers document every step of the judicial process and enter the disposition, age, gender, outcome and other information about each case. Court monitoring is active in 15 states across the country, with plans to expand to other states as volunteers and funding become available. States with court monitoring are:

  • Arizona
  • Arkansas (new)
  • Colorado (new)
  • Connecticut
  • Georgia (new to the national database)
  • Illinois
  • Louisiana
  • Missouri
  • Nebraska
  • New Mexico
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • South Carolina
  • Texas
  • Virginia

The report reveals observations in nine states with court monitors who collected data over a one-year period in at least one jurisdiction (reports for each of the nine states can be found here). The results are from a diverse cross-section of jurisdictions across the country. Ultimately, MADD hopes to add enough volunteers and staff to monitor courts in every jurisdiction, in every state, to produce comprehensive statewide and nationwide reports.

“Placing monitors in courtrooms helps us identify weaknesses so we can communicate our findings to prosecutors and judges. We use the data to tell the story of how drunk driving cases are being handled, and we can tell who takes them seriously,” Witty said. “We believe this important work will help improve the conviction rates of drunk drivers and, finally, help us put an end to this violent crime.”

About Mothers Against Drunk Driving
Founded in 1980 by a mother whose daughter was killed by a drunk driver, Mothers Against Drunk Driving® (MADD) is the nation’s largest nonprofit working to end drunk driving, help fight drugged driving, support the victims of these violent crimes and prevent underage drinking. MADD has helped to save more than 350,000 lives, reduce drunk driving deaths by more than 50 percent and promote designating a non-drinking driver. MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving® calls for law enforcement support, ignition interlocks for all offenders and advanced vehicle technology. MADD has provided supportive services to nearly one million drunk and drugged driving victims and survivors at no charge through local victim advocates and the 24-Hour Victim Help Line 1-877-MADD-HELP. Visit or call 1-877-ASK-MADD.

CONTACT: Becky Iannotta, 202-600-2032, [email protected]

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