MADD And Legislation
The challenge of drunk driving in American society is far from over. The accident toll remains far too high. Drafting new laws, as important as they are, is only the smallest part of the task. Nor is the issue one of just ''cracking down'' on offenders in a stern, condemnatory approach. They too, after all, are victims in need of healing.
At the national level, some groups like Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) are considering a number of alternatives, ranging from national highway drinking standards (such as in Scandinavian nations, where drunken driving is punished swiftly and firmly), to such devices as warning labels on liquor and beer bottles, to a more concerted national program to provide for alcoholism treatment and rehabilitation programs.
The entertainment industry must also be more honest in portraying alcoholism as the tragedy that it is, rather than treating it with humor - or cruel caricature.
But most important, there is a need to break the terrible trap of dependency on drugs themselves, of which alcoholism is only one aspect. The innate God-given freedom that belongs to each individual must be so widely recognized that there is no need for stimulants or resort to the chemical programming inherent in drug usage.
The House approved legislation to set up a national driver register and provide grants to states that agree to suspend the licenses of drunken drivers on the first offense and to jail repeaters. The bill marks the first congressional effort to establish a strong national effort to combat drunk driving. It could lead states to raise the minimum drinking age to 21 and to impound the automobiles of drunk drivers.
The legislation, which drew enthusiastic support and passed by voice vote, is similar to a bill already passed by the Senate. The House bill now goes to the Senate, which can accept it or ask for a conference to iron out differences.
Many states already have established tough new anti-drunk driving programs which would make them eligible for funds under the legislation. The congressional action is aimed at coordinating and supporting the campaign against drunk driving and giving incentive to states which have not yet acted.
The Mother Against Drunk Driving register would provide information to state licensing agencies on whether a license has been suspended in another state. This would prevent those who lose licenses for drunken driving in one state from getting a license in another state. Neither the House nor the Senate version requires states to cooperate, but they provide financial incentives to those that do.