Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD)
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has been improving communities across America since 1980.
The mission of MADD is to end drunk driving, to help fight drugged driving, to support the victims of these violent crimes, and to prevent underage drinking.
Victim Impact Panel (VIP) Program
In 2019, over 1,700 people have gone through the MADD Victim Impact Panel (VIP) program in Northeast Ohio alone. This program aims to help drunk and drugged driving offenders to recognize the long-term effects their actions could have on themselves and others.
There are four tiers in the traditional VIP program. The fifth tier is geared towards forensic experts and first responders. Offenders will typically go through 2-4 classes based on their sentence and must obtain a signature after each class is completed. The tiers are categorized as follows:
- Tier 1 – Victim Impact
- Tier 2 – Alcohol Education
- Tier 3 – Motivational Speaker
- Tier 4 – Effects of Alcohol on Family and Friends
- Tier 5 – Forensic Expert / First Responders
At a VIP class, both victims and offenders come together to share their stories of how an impaired driving situation has impacted their lives. At these classes, there is no blame or judgment between participants- it’s simply a time to share their experiences and how the situation had an impact on their lives.
An Interview with Rachel Babich, Director
To get a more in-depth look into Mothers Against Drunk Driving, their programming, and some life-saving tips, we talked to Rachel.
Rachel Babich started with MADD in 2014 as a victim advocate, working side-by-side with victims and learning their stories. For the last two years, Rachel has held the Director position, overseeing the MADD programs in Ohio. She’s passionate about the mission and strives to encourage others to join their fight in having “no more victims”.
What to Do if You See a Drunk or Impaired Driver
MADD’s first concern is your safety. “If you think someone is driving drunk around you, get yourself to safety. Pull off to the side, get off at the next exit, and if you have a passenger, get them to write down the license plate and the make of the car”, Rachel explains.
Although MADD preaches prevention, they also stress never trying to approach someone that’s behind the wheel. “Once they’re behind the wheel, it’s hands-off and call the authorities”, Rachel says.
Can You Prevent Drunk Driving?
One of MADD’s biggest tips involves having a plan. “We all pretty much know what the night or the day is going to entail when we’re heading out somewhere”, Rachel says. It’s important to know whether you plan on ordering an Uber or Lyft or are expecting to use a designated driver at the end of your night.
MADD recently launched a new partnership with an app called Freebird. Freebird works with Lyft and Uber to run special promo codes where the rider receives money back if they book a ride home through their platform, anywhere ranging from $2-10 per ride.
How Does MADD Help Victims?
Oftentimes when people hear about MADD, they assume their sole focus is to speak to groups and victims about drunk or impaired driving. The reality? That’s just one piece of the pie.
For example, MADD has dozens of advocates that work one-on-one with victims and their families to guide them through the justice process. Many families who have been severely impacted by drunk or impaired driving have never been to court and don’t know what to expect during a trial. “We’re there from the moment they accept our help to be a buffer between the victims’ family and the court system.” They’ll have a call or meeting before each hearing and inform them of the next steps and what to expect.
MADD is also a huge referral service. “Besides being an advocate and a rock for victims, we link them up to any agencies that might be able to help them more than we can.” Anything from house modifications to counseling services to civil attorneys, they guide victims and their families through every aspect of their new lives.
Finally, and most importantly, they give victims a voice. Oftentimes, victims don’t know what to do after a loss or a lifelong injury- they can’t, and don’t want, to just go back to “normal”. “We give them the forum to speak out and let their voices be heard”, Rachel explains, “To me, that’s the most crucial part- allowing the victims to make something somewhat good out of something so tragic and 100% preventable”.
Joey and Laura’s Story
Photo by Carolyn Harmon | The Daily Advocate]
Laura, MADD’s s current advisory board president, came through the organization three years ago. She was nominated for a community justice award for all she was doing in Montgomery County in honor of her son Joey, and Rachel was scheduled to present the award. “I didn’t know her then, but I soon found out the day I would give her the award was going to be the biggest blessing while being part of this MADD family”, Rachel explained.
About nine years ago, Laura’s two sons, a year apart, had the day off from school and wanted to go to the local fair with their friends. Laura permitted them to go and went off to work her normal night shift. Due to a lack of space in the car, Joey opted to stay back and let his brother go- as only one of them would fit. Since Joey was stuck at home, he agreed to help his father pick up a tractor the next town over for an upcoming derby competition (derbies were kind of Joey’s thing).
They were just a few miles from their house when a woman in an SUV hit them head-on going the opposite direction. The force was so impactful that the seatbelt snapped, throwing Joey out the back while severely injuring his father’s neck on his way out.
They later found out that the woman that hit them was huffing cans in the Walmart parking lot. She was uninjured and released quickly as she had four children to take care of at home. While awaiting trial, the woman overdosed and passed away.
The craziest part of the entire story? Laura has never been angry. “I’m a mother, I can’t process the thought of someone doing that to my child and my husband and being able to be okay. But Laura? She gets up every day and talks about it. She’s made it her life MISSION to talk about it”, Rachel said. Rachel explained that, obviously, Laura has her good days and bad days, days where she’s sad, depressed, and a little confused. But the only emotion Laura never showed, according to Rachel, is anger.
Since then, Laura has never turned down an event, sometimes talking 3 times per day at different venues. “I call her my earth angel”, Rachel says, “she’s just an incredible woman and the embodiment of what Mothers Against Drunk Driving has to offer for both victims and offenders.
To learn more about MADD’s programs and resources, visit www.madd.org or follow them on Facebook.
Drunk or impaired driving is 100% preventable. If you or someone you know has ever been involved in a car accident where a drunk driver caused serious injuries, it’s critical to hire legal representation to help you fight for justice.
Tittle & Perlmuter has represented hundreds of victims of car accidents, medical malpractice, nursing home neglect, and more. We want to help get you the justice you deserve. Fill out our contact form online or call our office at 216-285-9991 for a free, no-obligation consultation.