Eliminating Drunk Driving: MADD 2015 Report Examines State Progress

Colorado Shines with Exemplary DUI Laws that Reduce Drunk Driving

A MADD Idea: Eliminating Drunk Driving

MADD’s 2015 Report to the Nation is an overview of national DUI prevention strategies that MADD supports, and includes a state-by state grading of DUI administrative and legislative efforts.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has a goal to eliminate drunk drivers. The non-profit organization receives around $24 million dollars in grants and contributions per year to help them achieve that goal. MADD believes that media influence, law enforcement and technology are the keys to reaching the ideal of DUI-free roads and highways. To support these beliefs through legislation and to provide accountability for funding, MADD spends about $17 million dollars per year on salaries and compensation to track, analyze, campaign and report on efforts and progress.

Each state in MADD’s 2015 Report to the Nation was rated on a scale of 1-5 stars, with one being the lowest and five the highest. Colorado received five out of five stars—a glowing review despite the state not having a felony repeat-offender DUI law at that time. In fact, there was no mention of repeat offender DUI felony laws in the report. Instead, ignition interlock efforts and advanced alcohol-sensor technology took the spotlight, and it was recognized that ignition interlock efforts were more effective in reducing DUIs than increasing driver license suspension penalties.

“While all countermeasures are important to improve a state’s drunk driving laws, we know that ignition interlocks and sobriety checkpoints are the two most effective ways to dramatically reduce fatalities and injuries.”

– MADD Report to the Nation 2015

After Colorado’s five-star rating, Colorado’s incentives to promote immediate use of ignition-interlock devices at DUI conviction was highlighted, and Colorado was praised for its DUI prevention efforts and reduced alcohol-related fatalities.

“Colorado has been successful in reducing drunk driving fatalities. The state highly incentivizes the use of ignition interlocks for all convicted drunk drivers by allowing a shorter license suspension period for those who elect to go on an interlock immediately following a drunk driving conviction. Due in part to the state’s all-offender interlock law, drunk driving deaths have dropped by 19 percent.

MADD applauds Colorado on its continued efforts to keep the roads safe and protect the public from drunk drivers. Sobriety checkpoints and continued refinement of the ignition interlock program are proven countermeasures to continue to save lives.”

– MADD Report to the Nation 2015

How many stars did your state receive?

MADD Philosophy

MADD has three basic principles in their philosophy to eliminate DUI incidences:

  • Focus on current DUI-prevention methods that already exist and are already known to be effective;
  • Create laws that can reduce DUI incidences in the future;
  • Increase DUI-prevention technology so “driving under the influence” is driven to extinction.

In the 2015 State of the Nation MADD Report, states were given credit for sobriety checkpoints and saturation patrol. MADD reports these measures reduce DUI fatalities by 20% when they are combined with strong don’t drink and drive media messages. In the past, license suspension was believed to be an effective measure, but law enforcement personnel and Mothers Against Drunk Driving are now aware that the majority of convicted drunk drivers will continue to drive even with a suspended license. MADD estimates that as many as 50% to 75% of convicted drunk drivers will drive with a suspended license. In response to that realization and ignition interlock research, MADD emphasized the use and success of ignition interlock systems, and states were granted a star on the report for making ignition interlock regulations mandatory after a DUI conviction.

Colorado was a leader in ignition interlock regulations, and the first ignition interlock legislation in the state took place in 1995. MADD reports that ignition interlock regulations have tripled since 2006 (Colorado had over 17,000 ignition interlocks installed by 2010), but the technology is considered to be invasive by some.

MADD’s vision supports a future requiring new cars to have a non-invasive and unnoticeable Drive Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS) installed that prevents a car from being driven if alcohol is detected. Until driving under the influence becomes a blast from the past in the United States, MADD supports immediate administrative license revocation, stiffer child endangerment laws for DUI offenses that involve a child, and “no-refusal” initiatives that streamline warrants for blood-alcohol level testing in addition to swift interlock ignition laws. By unifying law enforcement, the auto industry, and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, MADD is developing strategic plans to reach their goal

National Progress

Today, over 318,000 ignition interlock devices have been installed in the U.S. and while 24 states require ignition interlock systems for all DUI offenders, every state has some type of law relating to ignition interlock devices. In Washington D.C., it’s an option for DUI offenders. In Colorado, it’s imperative. The Center for Disease Control reports that the re-arrest rate for DUI convicts is reduced by 67% when an ignition interlock device is used.

Ironically, as ignition interlock devices increasingly become mandatory with a DUI conviction, they are also being positioned to become extinct. The Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety, a coalition of 17 auto-manufacturing leaders, have come to the conclusion that it is feasible to manufacture new cars with a less-invasive alcohol-sensor system. Current prototypes include a touch-based alcohol sensor system and a breath-based system that doesn’t require the driver to blow into a tube. Tests are currently being done on a prototype in Sweden, and funding in the U.S. has been approved and renewed as a part of the Federal Highway bill (MAP-21 Section 405).This new technology could become available to the public as early as 2018. In this federal highway bill, over $21 million dollars was appropriated for ignition interlock incentive grants in 2014. Colorado received $343,608 in funding under this bill, and, as might be expected due to state size, California, New York and Texas all received over $1 million dollars in funding.

To further prevent DUI fatalities, 38 states (including Colorado) have sobriety checkpoint programs.Twelve states conduct a similar saturation patrol to enforce DUI laws and prevent DUI fatalities.

The Five Stars of MADD

MADD considers their philosophy the blueprint for a nation free from DUI fatalities, and the five star grading system quantifies how well a state engineers laws and regulations that adheres to MADD priorities.

One star is awarded for each of the five following categories:

  • Ignition Interlock Laws: A star is awarded if the state requires convicted DUI first-time offenders to install an ignition interlock device.
  • Sobriety Checkpoints: A star is awarded if the state legalizes the use of sobriety checkpoints.
  • Administrative License Revocation Regulations: A star is awarded if the state has driver license regulations that require an ignition interlock device to regain driving privileges after a DUI arrest.
  • Child Endangerment Laws related to DUI offenses: A star is awarded if the state increases penalties for DUI offenders that have a child in the car at the time of the offense.
  • “No-Refusal” Laws and Regulations: A star is awarded for the ease of getting a warrant for a chemical test on a DUI offender.

Highest State Ratings

Colorado was just one of several states that received five out of five stars. Here are the other states:

Maine, Delaware, Virginia, West Virginia, Alabama, Mississippi, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, Utah and Arizona.

Lowest State Ratings

Two states, Montana and Rhode Island,  received only one star. Montana and Rhode Island both received some chastising from MADD for their lack of activity in DUI prevention and enforcement, but they did receive one star for their DUI related child endangerment laws.

Wisconsin received two stars for sobriety checkpoints and administrative license revocation (ALR), and reprimand for being the only state that hasn’t made first-offense drunk driving a crime. Texas leads the nation in alcohol-related traffic fatalities, but the state received three stars from MADD for administrative license revocation (ALR), child endangerment laws, and no-refusal laws.

Did Recreational Marijuana Legalization Affect MADD Ratings?

Colorado, Washington and Oregon have legalized recreational marijuana and received three stars or more in the MADD ratings. Colorado had a perfect score and reduced fatal alcohol-related traffic accidents by 19%. Oregon received three stars and reduced alcohol related traffic fatalities by 30%, and Washington was granted four MADD stars and commended for reducing drunk driving deaths by 18%.

Colorado has successfully reduced drunk-driving related deaths using MADD-approved methods. Sobriety checkpoints and ignition interlock regulations in § 42-2-132.5 of Colorado’s statutes have proven to be effective at reducing DUI-related fatalities. New laws promoting the use of alcohol-sensor technology will continue to contribute to reducing DUI incidences around the nation. Until then, Driving Under the Influence charges will still involve stiff penalties and complicated laws.

DUI laws and administrative legal regulations undergo continuous change. If you received a DUI in Colorado, a knowledgeable attorney can help you navigate the system so you can get your life back in order. Contact the Tiftickjian Law Firm for assistance at (303) DUI-5280, and learn what options and incentives can help you with your DUI today.

MADD Infographic Report to the Nation


Tiftickjian Law Firm Felony DUI History Collection

History of Colorado Felony DUI – “A Short History of Colorado’s Felony DUI Bills and Laws
History of Colorado Felony DUI – Part 1 “Which Came First? The Felony or the DUI?
History of Colorado Felony DUI – Part 2 “The Rough Road to Freedom” (Laws and Independence, the 1700’s)
History of Colorado Felony DUI – Part 3 “Colorado, Felonies and The First DUI

A MADD Idea: Eliminating Drunk Driving

Eliminating Drunk Driving: MADD 2015 Report Examines State Progress – Colorado Shines with Exemplary DUI Laws that Reduce Drunk Driving


Felony DUI in the Press

KOA Radio Show – Is a Felony DUI a Good Idea? “Jay Tiftickjian Guest on Radio Show Topic: Colorado Felony DUI
Colorado Felony DUI Bill Debate – Jay Tiftickjian and Mark Waller Agree Is Treatment the Answer? Yes – both agree.