EXCLUSIVE: Question MADD? The Answer May Lie in a R.I.D.L.

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posted on Apr, 2 2004 @ 01:03 PM
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Recently after finding her way to the AboveTopSecret.com discussion board for member commentary on Mother's Against Drunk Drivers, Jeanne Pruett, the Founder, President and CEO of R.I.D.L., an awareness and activism organization seeking Responsibility in DUI Laws, agreed to an ATSNN.com interview to explain her mission and highlight issues in DUI laws.
 


Q: What is R.I.D.L.?
A: Responbility In DUI Laws, Inc. (R.I.D.L.) is a non-profit organization based in Livonia, MI. We are a group of concerned citizens who recognize that the current trend in DUI laws is aimed at criminalizing and punishing Responsible Drinkers and is having little if any affect towards curbing drunk driving. Our mission is to educate the public and lawmakers about the misdirection of the current laws, take the steps necessary to get the current laws repealed and to provide alternative suggestions for dealing with the problem of drunk driving. Our organization is nationwide and is growing at a very fast pace. We currently have members in 33 states and a few from other countries. We have members who drink and members who dont drink. We have members whove had a DUI and those who have not. We even have members who have had a friend or loved one killed by a drunk driver. What we all have in common is a concern about how the drunk driving laws are eroding our hard-won liberties and civil rights.

Q: What circumstances specifically prompted you to found RIDL?
A: A police officer lied on the stand under oath about me and the events of the night he arrested me. He was caught lying by my attorney and yet he was never accused or prosecuted for perjury and he still has his job. I was astonished to learn that our court system allows police to perjure themselves with impunity. After that I began to research DUI laws. In particular I became interested in the FARS database and how NHTSA comes up with the "alcohol-related" figure. When I discovered that they were counting bicyclists, pedestrian and passengers who had been drinking and were listing them as "drunk drivers" I felt it was my duty to inform my fellow citizens of the deceit.

Q: A main goal of R.I.D.L. is to repeal the .08 BAC laws. What would be an appropriate law your opinion?
A: .08 BAC laws have been mandated to states by the federal government through TEA-21 under the threat of losing highway funds if they are not passed. This is a blatant violation of the constitution of the United States. Our number one goal and main focus is to repeal this requirement.

The .08 BAC laws are "per se" laws. That means that you are guilty because a machine says you have a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher. No proof of impairment is required. You have no defense whatsoever. Per se laws should be illegal at all BAC levels. The government should have to prove impairment. In addition, we believe that the federal government is violating the constitution of the United States by requiring states to pass .08 BAC laws. An acceptable level of BAC should be determined at the state level, not the federal level. MADD lobbied for years at the state level to pass .08. They had very little success. It was clear the states did not want to lower their BAC levels to .08. So MADD went to the federal government to force the states to do what MADD wanted.

An appropriate law? In my opinion an appropriate law would be to fine MADD for violating their 501(c)(3) stipulation that disallows them from lobbying congress and ban them from further activities in that regard.

Q: Another main goal of R.I.D.L. is in countering some of the statistics of MADD and NHTSA, such as "17,970 people were killed by drunk drivers in 2002." Can you walk us through your counter findings? What other stats are currently being manipulated in your opinion?
A: NHTSA has a variable in their database called DRUNK_DR. In their user guide it is defined as "the number of drunk drivers in an accident". This is the variable they use to come up with their "alcohol-related" figure. We have proven that NHTSA increments this variable whenever ANYONE in an accident, regardless of whether they were driving the vehicle, has had any measurable amount of alcohol or drugs in their system. It is also incremented if a police officer says a person had been drinking even if later tests show them to be sober. This results in a figure a little over 15,000.

NHTSA then employs a methodology called "Multiple Imputation" to add in "drunk drivers" for drivers who have no known BAC level. This is done to drivers even though the police say a person was not drinking. So on the one hand they believe the police if they say a person WAS drinking, but they do not believe the police if they say a person was not. The word "impute", by the way, means "to point a finger at". It shows NHTSA's true motive is to attempt to "point the finger" at "drunk drivers" as being the cause of fatal accidents.
In addition, MADD has helped to develop extremely harsh penalties for repeat offenders claiming them to be the worst culprits in drunk driving fatalities. However, we have a yet to be published report that shows that only 10% of drivers with BAC levels over .08 or who used drugs involved in fatal accidents had a previous DUI.

MADD is now focusing on drivers who drink and have a child in the car with them. They claim that 2/3 of the children killed in fatal accidents that involve alcohol are riding with the drunk driver. We have found this to be absolutely untrue. We also looked at drivers that had BAC levels of.08 or .09 to evaluate how many of them were involved in an accident where a child riding with them was killed. We found only 8 across the entire country. We feel that to criminalize a man who takes his son to the ball game and has two beers before driving home because of these 8 people is statistically and morally unacceptable.

Q: R.I.D.L. lists a number of other goals actually. Can you tell us the rationale behind each?

~Require medical diagnosis of alcoholism prior to harsh sentence requirements
The AMA claims alcoholism is a disease. That means it can only be diagnosed by a physician. Courts give DUI convictees a questionaire and then make their own assessment. This is tantamount to practicing medicine without a license. In addition, all convictees are required to attend alcoholics anonymous meetings. If a person is not an alcoholic, they should not be required to attend these meetings or be subjected to other forms of treatment. Especially since people are forced to pay for this treatment that they may not need.

~Require graduated penalties for DUI convictions
We do not penalize someone who speeds at 25mph over the speed limit in the same way that we penalize someone going 5mph over the speed limit. It's clear, and even MADD admits, that drivers with the higher BAC levels are much more dangerous. So we should employ graduated penalities that are less severe for someone at a lower BAC level than for those at higher BAC levels.

~Encourage people to purchase and carry personal breathalyzers
While we do not think breathalyzers in general are accurate, in particular when it comes to women, people of other races and the elderly, we do think that if people purchase and use personal breathalyzers that it levels the playing field. Most people today have no idea what their BAC level is. And because MADD and NHTSA erroneously tell people it takes 6 to 8 drinks to get to .08, many people think they are ok to drive after 3 or 4. Those are they people who are getting trapped.

~Require police to notify people of their right to a blood test after arrest
In many states a driver may request a blood test instead of or in addition to a breath test. Blood tests are often more accurate then breath tests and may show a driver to actually be innocent where a breath test may prove them to be guilty (although there are some problems with the blood tests as well). Often though, when a driver is pulled over, the police tell them that they are required to give a breath sample and do not inform them of their right to a blood test instead or as well.

~Require courts to provide alternatives to AA to deal with problem drinkers
Some people want to quit drinking but are offended or turned off by AA's religious aspects. Today thought, AA is the only alternative offered by courts. The Supreme Court ruled in 1999 that Alcoholics Anonymous is a religious organization and courts imposing AA requirements on convictees is a violation of separation of church and state.

~Require auto-expunge of DWIs after seven years
Currently, a DUI conviction will remain on one's record forever. Often a court will impose stricter punishment on someone with a prior DUI even if that prior offense was 10, 20, 30 or more years ago.

Q: What resistance, if any, have you encountered?
A: MADD, of course. MADD automatically calls anyone who opposes them drunks or says that they support drunk driving. This is absolutely false. We do not, in any way, support drunk driving. But we feel that the lowered BAC levels are ineffective in battling drunk driving and do nothing but criminalize average social drinkers.

Q: What successes and exposure have you had?
A: We have had several news paper and magazine stories written about us. Our members have written to their state and US representatives and senators regarding this topic. Over the past year I have personally appeared on six radio talk shows across the country to discuss this topic. Next week, we will be receiving some coverage on a major radio station in the Detroit area. Last year 20+ RIDL members logged on to MADD's discussion forum to let them know that we exist and have come together to fight back. As expected, we were not welcomed with open arms. But the experience taught us a great deal about MADD and how they operate.

RIDL showed a presence in Lansing, Michigan last summer when the legislature there was discussing lowering the BAC to .08. I had the opportunity to debate the "expert" who said it takes 8 drinks to get to .08. Most of the senators were in agreement that he was wrong. Our efforts coupled with the efforts of other groups resulted in Michigan including a sunset clause that our BAC level would automatically go back to .10 after 10 years if NHTSA and MADD cannot prove that lowering the BAC results in lowered "alcohol-related" fatalities.

Q: Obviously, much of your initiative is directed at countering the efforts of MADD, one of the most widely supported and well liked non-profit organizations in America. How difficult is it to stand in opposition to such a player?
A: It's extremely difficult on many levels. MADD has been around for 20 years and they are everywhere. They are in the churches, the schools, the courthouses and in government. They have the advantage of having already developed powerful relationships and allies. They have a very large income and budget, we, on the other hand, are on a "shoe-thread" budget and are still in start up mode at this time.

Q: Surely you sympathise with victims of drunk drivers; how do you answer criticism?
A: Absolutely I sympathize with victims of drunk drivers. MADD would have us believe that everyone who's been a victim or has lost a family member automatically believes and supports all of MADD's tenets. But not everyone who's been a victim believes in punishing everyone who has one or two drinks and drives a car. Our vice president watched his best friend get killed by a drunk driver before his eyes. Yet he does not support MADD. Also, we believe that if the police focused their efforts on drivers with high BAC levels, drivers using drugs and drivers combining drugs and alcohol that they would be far more effective in ridding the roadways of dangerous drunk drivers. It takes hours to process a drunk driver and when those hours are spent on someone who's had one or two drinks and obviously poses no threat to society, one must wonder how many truly dangerous drunks are getting away.
We firmly believe that if someone is involved in an accident and an injury or death results, if it can be shown that the driver was drunk and that they actually CAUSED the accident and it was a direct result of them being drunk, then we support strict punishment. However, many accidents that happen would have happened regardless of the presence of alcohol. In those instances where the driver was not at fault, we do not agree that long jail sentences and/or other harsh penalties be given to the driver.

Background: Jeanne Pruett, Founder, President and CEO of R.I.D.L., has worked as a computer network engineer and consultant since 1987. She specializes in data mining and reporting and has utilized these skills in many of the world's largest corporations including two of the big three automakers. Ms. Pruett utilized these skills to evaluate the data in the FARS (Fatal Analysis Reporting System) database which is the same database used by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In February 2003, Ms. Pruett and three other core members incorporated R.I.D.L. and opened the online website www.RIDL.us in order to begin addressing the DUI issues and to offer moral support to people who feel they have been unfairly caught in the DUI system. R.I.D.L. has seen tremendous growth in membership and interest in the industry over the past year.

R.I.D.L.'s opposition, Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD), has grown into a powerful lobbying organization from it's grassroots beginnings in 1980. To date, M.A.D.D. boasts a hand in over 2,300 new DUI laws and over $50 million in annual funding.

Related Links:
www.RIDL.us
www.MADD.com
www.NHTSA.dot.gov

Related AboveTopSecret.com Discussion:
Stop the M.A.D.D.ness!!!

[Edited on 2-4-2004 by SkepticOverlord]

[Edited on 4-22-2004 by Valhall]

[Edited on 4-22-2004 by Valhall]




posted on Apr, 2 2004 @ 01:21 PM
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First,I'm a Brit so MADD does not apply to me.

Personally,I am for strict DUI laws.

However,I think that Jeanne Pruett raises some very interesting points in this interview.

Will someone from MADD respond ?



posted on Apr, 2 2004 @ 01:50 PM
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Originally posted by John bull 1
Will someone from MADD respond ?


I've made them aware and extended the invitation, but I'm not sure MADD seeks a head to head debate on the issue of statistics.

Much of their success seems to stem from emotional appeals under the heading of victims, such as the infamous 1988 Bush Crash.

Though many of the statistics RIDL questions are available on-line: www.madd.org...

[Edited on 2-4-2004 by RANT]



posted on Apr, 2 2004 @ 02:59 PM
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Awesome article. This has got to be one that everyone reads. I am happy to see there is someone out there looking out for the average joe. I can drink 4 beers with no impaiment in judgement, vision, or reflexes, yet blow a 1.4 on the breath test (if not spaced out over a long period of time of course). There are way too many people getting booked for DWI that are taking too much time from getting the real offenders. I like the views of RIDL and hope they can succeed in their cause.



posted on Apr, 2 2004 @ 03:05 PM
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Awesome article. Good Job RANT.



posted on Apr, 2 2004 @ 05:47 PM
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excellent post

madd is mad.... makes one wonder how many other stats have been 'stacked'...gun deaths come to mind



posted on Apr, 2 2004 @ 05:58 PM
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Great interview. My thanks to RANT and Ms. Pruett.
It's good to know someone is on the side of the regular citizen
...and I don't even drink.



posted on Apr, 3 2004 @ 02:08 AM
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Rant, awesome post and the information I am sure will be put to good use in the fight against extraneous regulations imposed on the states.

It's odd that this aspect is not covered in the media.

Well, on second thought it's not so odd after all.

I would encourage everyone to use this interview to write a preliminary report to send to the investigative departments of your local news stations.

With the diversity in ATS locations nationwide, there must be some who would do a story about this.



posted on Apr, 5 2004 @ 06:26 PM
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I'm happy to see that there is a group trying to stop the MADDness that everyone deserves the same punishment regardless of whether or not they are impaired but blow a certain number on a test. I believe people who drink two 12 packs of beer and then go driving are much more deserving of punishment than someone who only had 2 or 3 beers and shows no impairment but got stopped at a checkpoint.

All this attention on punishing impaired drivers but we let people drive around with cell phones with impunity when at least one study indicated that their reaction times are much slower than a drunk driver. Let's stop this madness and apply sanity to our laws and punishment.



posted on Apr, 5 2004 @ 09:26 PM
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I applaud the fact that there is somone looking out for our rights. A while back a female friend and myself went out and had two drinks. She on her way home was hit broadside by a jerk running a stop sign. He admitted it, the State Police came to the scene -no injuries. The police asked her if she had ANYTHING to drink, being a good citizen and 50 year old mother said yes I had a drink! Bingo breath test and a ticket for DUI. Two drinks, 115lb. women, insurance rates through the roof. Completely crazy.



posted on Apr, 6 2004 @ 08:24 AM
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Originally posted by Truthteller
I applaud the fact that there is somone looking out for our rights. A while back a female friend and myself went out and had two drinks. She on her way home was hit broadside by a jerk running a stop sign. He admitted it, the State Police came to the scene -no injuries. The police asked her if she had ANYTHING to drink, being a good citizen and 50 year old mother said yes I had a drink! Bingo breath test and a ticket for DUI. Two drinks, 115lb. women, insurance rates through the roof. Completely crazy.


And though it was the other guys fault, MADD now has HER in the statistics databank as "another DUI crash". This really has to change.



posted on Apr, 7 2004 @ 12:59 AM
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My father was an alcoholic, and would frequently drive drunk. I never supported this. About two years ago he got third striked (or possibly fourth) and got lockdown. He was fortunate in that he only had one year and got transferred to a treatment facility (yes, we're white). It's been a year and a half since, but if you knew my dad, this is more than an accomplishment. It has been the best gift the government has ever given me.

However good the result was, I am still with R.I.D.L. My father's drinking was his and our problem, and would have still been there if he was "paranoid" and never drove drunk. It's horrible and tragic the things that happen to drunk driving victims, but we cannot rationalize laws that punsih everyone for the crimes of a few.

If an Irishman and a Native American drank the same amount of alcohol, there would be a markable difference in their level of intoxication. Genetic tolerances if you will.

There should be a limit on drunk driving, but not an unequal standard. Field sobriety tests on camera could work very good in court. Afterall, what do we have manslaugter and criminaly negligent homicide for? They are not murderers, but fools. The American justice system is supposed to be about fixing the problem, not punishment.



posted on Apr, 9 2004 @ 11:00 PM
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~Require courts to provide alternatives to AA to deal with problem drinkers
Some people want to quit drinking but are offended or turned off by AA's religious aspects. Today thought, AA is the only alternative offered by courts. The Supreme Court ruled in 1999 that Alcoholics Anonymous is a religious organization and courts imposing AA requirements on convictees is a violation of separation of church and state.

I was court ordered to attend AA prayer sessions!!!
There's nothing more alienating than being an agnostic in a room full of christians who suddenly decide everyone in their presence shares their beliefs, so they decide to all hold hands and pray.

I tell ya, I was in a state of disbelief, that I was being ordered by any court to attend these meetings!


I too am very happy to see a DUI law resistance. What the hell has happened to America? It's gotten completely out of control. People are trading in their freedom for a false sense of security, based upon lies.


[Edited on 4-9-2004 by Satyr]



posted on Apr, 15 2004 @ 09:53 AM
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Oprah Winfrey, recently had a show about a girl who got burned by a drunk driver. There is a discussion going on at her discussion board about drunk driving. Many of the typical emotional MADD arguments are being posted there, but some good discussion is happening too.

To see what's being said go to: boards.oprah.com...

Select "Search Boards" and search on drunk driver. Then click on the story, "I was burned by a drunk driver."

At the bottom you can select newest messages to see the most recent postings.



posted on Apr, 15 2004 @ 10:22 AM
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The problem I see with most of those stories is, these people wrongfully assume that only drunk drivers make mistakes and cause accidents. This is just not true. Most of the time, it wouldn't matter if the victim or perpetrator was drunk or not. Almost every accident is circumstantial, and they want people to believe that alcohol is the one and only cause of these circumstances. There is no logic in that thought process, only fear. Accidents are just that...accidents. You don't know when they'll happen, and you don't know the outcome. All you can do is be alert. I do agree that, if you drink to the point that you're no longer alert, you should be responsible enough not to drive. Alot of people are, IMO. There are people who go their entire lives drinking and driving, and never have a single incident. I'd be one of those people, if it weren't for the DUI I never should've been charged with.
One thing I do know, accidents tend to happen a lot more to careless people. So, should we wage war on careless people? Removing ignorant drivers from the roads would be much more effective than DUI laws, and it would solve all traffic problems.



posted on Apr, 23 2004 @ 04:24 AM
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Hey all,

I thought you might be interested in the following news articles from Dallas. Someone else has joined the fight to expose the MADDness.

www.wfaa.com...

www.dallasnews.com...



posted on May, 4 2004 @ 10:00 AM
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Someone wondered earlier whether MADD would respond. I know they know about the article. I told them about it.

But they can't possibly win this discussion in a public forum and they know it. That's why they avoid like the plague debating this anywhere.



posted on May, 4 2004 @ 11:19 AM
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The state of Colorado has been successful until now in defeating bills to lower BAC to .08. Today the third revision of the bill may well be signed by the religious right conservative Governor, Bill Owens. Several lawmakers in the state have called the Federal government's use of highway funding "Blackmail." To Colorado we are talking about $50 million. That's some pretty heavy-duty blackmail!!!

What can the average voter do? NOTHING!!! The errosion of rights in this country has increased rapidly in the past decade. When will it end? Not until there is a groundswell of support for liberalization of liberties.

:w: :bash: :bnghd:



posted on May, 5 2004 @ 03:37 PM
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Actually the average voter CAN do something. By banding together and letting these guys know that we will boot them out of office if they keep this up, we CAN win. That's what RIDL's all about.

That's how MADD got in there in the first place. By demonstrating they had a lot of people to back them up. Well, it's time for the tables to turn.

What's to stop us from doing the same thing? It's just a matter of time and a matter of letting as many people as possible know about us. Eventually we WILL prevail.

You can't go around arresting 1.6 million people per year when half of them weren't drunk and not have pissed some people off you know. That's the pool. We just have to tap it.

On our website there is an essay that I wrote under the Letters from the CEO link. It's called the Road To Success. I recommend everyone read it to see where I'm coming from.





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