New MADD Report Shows 63% of Drunk Drivers Are Convicted

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Court Monitoring Program Sends Observers into Courtrooms Across the Country

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A less than two-thirds conviction rate is not enough, but it’s encouraging to see that we are moving in the right direction and holding more drunk driving offenders accountable.

A new Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Court Monitoring Report shows 63% of drunk drivers are convicted of their charges. The nationwide average reflects observations and data collected by MADD court monitors in 17 states from January 1, 2020 to December 31, 2020. Despite court closings and virtual hearings during the pandemic, the conviction rate is up 6.7% from 2019, when MADD’s court monitors noted an average 59% conviction rate.

“The improved conviction rate in the areas we monitor in the midst of a pandemic tells us the program is working,” said MADD National President Alex Otte. “A less than two-thirds conviction rate is not enough, but it’s encouraging to see that we are moving in the right direction and holding more drunk driving offenders accountable. MADD will continue to put more monitors in courtrooms to ensure judges and prosecutors are treating drunk driving like the violent crime that it is, even as they work to clear the backlog of cases caused by the pandemic.”

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 has learned over the past 41 years that drunk drivers will repeat their crimes, especially if their behavior is not addressed at the first offense,” Otte said. “We are putting volunteers and staff in the courtrooms to document how non-injury and non-fatal crashes are handled so we can work within our communities to make sure every offender is held accountable, every time. No excuses.”

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 and staff document every step of the judicial process and enter the disposition, age, gender, outcome and other information about each case. Court monitoring is now 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
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Georgia
  • Illinois
  • Louisiana
  • Maryland
  • Missouri
  • Nevada
  • Nebraska
  • New Mexico
  • North Carolina
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Virginia

The report reveals observations by court monitors who collected data over a one-year period in at least one jurisdiction within their state (reports for 13 court monitoring states can be found here or at madd.org/courts). 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 http://www.madd.org or call 1-877-ASK-MADD.

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Becky Iannotta
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