-- Hundreds of DUI victims and MADD supporters gather on Capitol Hill to urge Congress to take action --
WASHINGTON, Sept. 27, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, as part of the 2012 Mothers Against Drunk Driving National Conference, more than 300 drunk driving crash victims and survivors, MADD volunteers and supporters from across the country are gathered at the U.S. Capitol for legislative meetings to urge Congressional action on two important measures: full funding for priority highway safety programs, and passage of a Constitutional Amendment providing for crime victims' rights.
As part of the federal surface transportation legislation known as MAP-21, Congress streamlined the nation's priority highway safety grant programs into the new Section 405. However, the Continuing Resolution (CR) recently passed by Congress does not contain the full $265 million in annual funding to implement this new program, which includes drunk driving prevention, occupant protection, distracted driving prevention, motorcycle safety, improved graduated driver's license laws and data collection — all of which are imperative for saving lives and preventing injuries on our roadways.
"MADD is calling on Congress to include the full funding for these priority highway safety programs when Members return to work after the election," said MADD National President Jan Withers. "Failure to act will lead to increased fatalities on our nation's roadways."
As a result of inaction with regards to the CR, states are being forced to make difficult choices about how to fund long-range traffic safety projects, how to fund programs focused on preventing drunk driving, and how to pay for grant-funded safety activities and employees. Failure to fully fund highway safety grant programs must be corrected when Congress again considers spending for FY 2013.
"The lack of funding for key highway safety programs is not only problematic for states' budgets, but the American people will end up paying a much higher price through deaths and injuries," added Withers. "Efforts aimed at impaired driving prevention, along with other safety measures for teen drivers, vehicle passengers and motorcycle riders should not be an afterthought."
MADD is also urging Congress to pass a Constitutional Amendment providing for crime victims' rights. Currently, victims are often denied basic rights, like being informed of court proceedings and developments in their case. They can also be denied the right to be present in the courtroom or to make a victim impact statement.
"Unfortunately, I know firsthand what it's like to have my victims' rights denied," said Withers. "After my 15-year-old daughter, Alisa, was killed by an underage drunk driver, my family and I were not given the opportunity to have our voices heard during sentencing — it felt like yet another victimization, after we had already been through so much pain."
There are currently statutes in every state protecting crime victims' rights; however, only a defendant's rights are protected by the Constitution. MADD is advocating for victims of crime to have their rights protected at this most basic level too, so a defendant's rights don't automatically trump a victim's rights and so the voices of victims can be heard.
For more information about MADD's 2012 National Conference, "Steps to a Safer Nation," visit www.madd.org/conference2012.
About Mothers Against Drunk Driving
Founded by a mother whose daughter was killed by a drunk driver, Mothers Against Drunk Driving® (MADD) is the nation's largest nonprofit working to protect families from drunk driving and underage drinking. With the help of those who want a safer future, MADD's Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving® will end this danger on America's roads. PowerTalk 21® is the national day for parents to talk with their kids about alcohol, using the proven strategies of Power of Parents™ to reduce the risk of underage drinking. And as one of the largest victim services organizations in the U.S., MADD also supports drunk and drugged driving victims and survivors at no charge, serving one person every eight minutes through local MADD victim advocates and at 1-877-MADD-HELP. Learn more at www.madd.org or by calling 1-877-ASK-MADD.
SOURCE Mothers Against Drunk Driving