We were pleased to have a local bathroom remodeling company, Clear Choice Bath, visit the 6th grade class of Lincoln Middle School. As they spoke, the representative reminded us of the MADD origins. As the acronym suggests, MADD had its roots in the anger and rage that one mother, Candace Lightner, felt after her 13-year-old daughter was killed by a drunk driver while walking on the sidewalk. The perpetrator of this horrendous crime, Clarence William Busch, not only fled the scene of the crime but was a repeat offender who was out on bail for a prior hit and run incident while under the influence.

But Candace’s anger was not only directed towards Busch. The fact that this crime was responsible for the highest number of fatalities of persons between the ages of 15 and 23 years and that over 250,000 died due to alcohol related auto accidents, really spurred Candace to start taking action as there seemed to be nothing that anyone was doing to reduce these horrifying statistics.

To top it off, she was made to understand that it was less than likely that her daughter, Cari’s, killer was less than likely to suffer the consequences of his criminal action. While drunk driving laws existed in 1980 when the crime was committed, it wasn’t likely that a person would be charged or receive the sentence that they deserved.

Candace decided that this injustice needed to change and to create awareness and change the perception surrounding drunk driving. At the time, drinking and driving was considered to be acceptable even though the statistics showed that doing so would probably end in the death of the drunk driver or another, innocent victim on the road.

Her actions stirred the proverbial bees nest and within just 3 years, mass protests against current drunk driving laws took place across the United States. With millions of people affected by this type of crime, it wasn’t surprising when the charity organization went international.

MADD has been responsible for revolutionizing the way that people think about drunk driving as well as changing the legal system regarding DWI’s. Some of the most significant changes that have been driven by MADD include:

– The designated driver phenomenon. It was MADD that first coined this phrase and created a mindset where once person in a group would always remain sober and be responsible for all driving.
– In 1984, MADD was behind changing the legal age for drinking from 18 years to 21 years.
– In the 90’s, it drove the campaign to lower the legal blood alcohol content for drivers from 0.10 to 0.8.
– The organization also took on the challenge to reduce underage drinking by forcing advertising to be less attractive to the youth.

There are many more changes that were made by MADD through the years, all that have contributed significantly to lowering fatalities and injuries related to drunk driving. However, perhaps the most important achievement is that fatalities caused whien driving while intoxicated can now result in charges of manslaughter or murder being brought against the perpetrators, effectively criminalizing drunk driving.

While Busch’s name has all but been forgotten over the decades, Cari, through her mother’s actions, will be remembered eternally.