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New MADD Court Monitoring Report Shows Drop in Drunk Driving Convictions in 2021

32% of Defendants Were Male Drivers Age 21 to 39

DALLAS — A new Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Court Monitoring Report shows a 58% conviction rate for drunk and drug-impaired drivers in 2021, down from 63% in 2020. The report reflects observations and data collected by MADD court monitors in 12 states from January 1, 2021 to December 31, 2021.

“Impaired driving due to alcohol and other drugs is the No. 1 killer on America’s roads. We know that the way to stop these 100% preventable deaths and injuries is with strong laws that are enforced and hold impaired drivers accountable every time,” said MADD National President Alex Otte. “It’s disappointing to learn that just a little over half of drunk drivers were convicted last year, at a time when traffic deaths are skyrocketing. The information collected by our court monitors is so important because it helps guide our work with the justice system to support law enforcement efforts to protect our communities from impaired driving.”

Observing courtroom proceedings is a longstanding tradition with MADD. The formal program began in 2015, when MADD established training for staff and volunteers who attend judicial proceedings to ensure impaired driving laws are enforced and prosecuted to the fullest extent. The monitored cases do not involve injuries or deaths.

Among the findings in 2021:

  • 120 court monitors observed roughly 33,000 impaired driving cases; 58% of adjudicated cases resulted in a guilty verdict
  • 7% of cases were dismissed (includes dismissals by the prosecution known as Nolle Prosequi)
  • 60% of defendants were age 21-39
  • 73% of defendants were male
  • 32% of defendants were men between the ages of 21-39
  • 78% of defendants were charged with a first drunk driving offense and 12% with a second offense
  • 22% of defendants had two or more offenses
  • 45% of the offenders registered a BAC of .08 to .14
  • 48% of the offenders registered a BAC of .15 or higher

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 and drug-impaired driving.

Volunteers and staff document every step of the judicial process and enter the disposition, age and gender of the offender, outcome and other information about each case. MADD’s Court Monitoring Program is now active in 14 states across the country, with plans to expand to other states as volunteers and funding become available. States with court monitoring are:

  • Arizona
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Louisiana
  • Missouri
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Mexico
  • North Carolina
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Virginia

The report outlines observations by court monitors who collected data over a one-year period in at least one jurisdiction within their state (reports for 10 court monitoring 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.

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 400,000 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 www.madd.org or call 1-877-ASK-MADD.

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