MADD data shows first offenders cause most fatal crashes

first offendersEvery year Mother’s Against Drunk Driving issues an annual report card as part of it’s ‘Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving: 2014 Report to the Nation’. All 50 states plus Washington, DC are subject to a five-point evaluation, and this year Wisconsin received one of the lowest grades in the nation. The report card was also used to highlight important drunk driving data taken from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation and analyzed by MADD: that the majority of drunk driving deaths and injuries are caused by drunk driving offenders with no prior convictions.

A news release by MADD in February of 2014 stated that first-time offenders are rarely first-time drunk drivers, and data shows that those who have been convicted of a first time OWI or DUI have actually driven under the influence at least 80 times prior to their arrest.

The information from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation demonstrated how, over a 12-year period from 1991 to 2002, 3 out of 4 drivers who were drinking and had been involved in a serious or fatal crash had no prior OWI on record. The NHTSA also backs up this data, with statistics showing that 93% of drinking drivers involved in fatal crashes have no previous DUI conviction in the past 3 years.

The statistics are sobering considering many state lawmakers argue against punishing first offenders in the same way they penalize second and subsequent offenders. An example is Wisconsin itself, where there is no criminal liability for first offenders, fines are only $150 to $300, and license suspension is for a period of 6 to 9 months at a maximum.

MADD is one of the biggest advocates for ignition interlock devices for first offenders, and the argument can also be made that, given the data from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, ignition interlock devices should be mandatory for all first time DUI offenders in the USA.