Archive for May, 2011

Trooper Downing and First Lady Sally Ganem

Wow what a week last week was for our MADD State Office!  On Tuesday we held our 12th annual “Outstanding Law Enforcement Awards & Recognition” in LaVista and Iowa law enforcement joined our event too.  It was a pleasure to see more than 25 awards handed out to deserving individuals that work tirelessly to ensure that we have safe roads to travel home on each and every day.
MADD appreciates the  financial support from Bob Batt to make this event a reality and we really appreciate the support of the family members of the winners as they pay a price that we, the public, will never understand but we do appreciate.  There was much fun to be had on Tuesday and the Candy Bar was a hit again. Thanks to our signature sponsor No Frills.
Next, there was the signing of LB 667 into law by the Governor.  A comprehensive piece of legislation brought to the state senators by the Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning, manged by the Speaker of the Legislature, Mike Flood and prioritized by Senator Wallman.  Additionally, there was considerable victim input by several families and MADD was pleased to see more ignition interlock put into use, boating under suspension, and a separate offense for transporting a child while intoxicated. The bill went through all three rounds of debate without a single NO vote.  That is a testament to the legislature’s support to stop drunk driving and support victims/survivors impacted by this violent crime.
Last, we all kicked off the 100 days of summer with Memorial Day weekend.  A time for reflection, family and gratitude for those that serve our country to ensure we all have our freedom to live life to the fullest.
Several different agencies were conducting DUI enforcement and  seat belt enforcement. Naturally, there was some of concern around the Nebraska State Parks as this is the first year it has been legal to consume alcohol in our state parks for some while.  However, at first glance it seems all went well despite the fact it has put some additional burden on our law enforcement agencies.
That about wraps it up – busy week!  Thanks to our supporters, our victim families and the community for supporting our mission.

On behalf of MADD and our membership across the state, I want to thank those that supported LB 667 on General File and ask for your continued support of this bill on Select File.

 First and foremost MADD supports the provision for mandatory ignition interlocks upon conviction on all offenders at .08 or above. We all know drunk driving is a violent crime and one person dies, on average, every five days in an alcohol-related crash in our state. 

Despite the fact that life saving technology exists, it is not uncommon for the courts to ask the offender if he/she wants it installed.  The law requiring ignition interlock, in its current state, is an optional law.  MADD is concerned about the disparity of treatment of offenders and MADD believes mandatory ignition interlock would provide for equitable treatment of all offenders.

 In 2009, there were more than 13,000 arrests for DWI, our state conviction rate stands at 86 percent and yet in 2009 there were only 1,800 ignition interlocks in use. Recently, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) released that ignition interlocks work to stop drunk driving and reduce recidivism.   

However, it is clear that judicial discretion is not providing for equitable treatment of offenders across the state. From our MADD Court Monitoring Program, we can see that there is clearly an inconsistent use of ignition interlock (1 out of every 6 offenders).

LB 667 will provide for a more consistent use of ignition interlock across the state both as an administrative measure and as a post-conviction measure.  The use of this technology will help to ensure safe passage on our roads for all Nebraskans. 

Last, MADD strongly supports acknowledging the transportation of a child while under the influence as distinct crime.  Two-thirds of all children ages 14 and under killed in an alcohol-related crash are killed while riding with a parent, caregiver or guardian (JAMA, May 200).  These children have no voice and they have no choice.  In Nebraska, over the last five years, more than 260 children have been put at-risk and 19 have died in an alcohol-related crash involving an adult  driver with a BAC of .08 or higher (NOHS). The lives of our youth deserve to have a policy in place to protect them from harm.

Thank you for your continued support. Contact your state senator

Graduation: Party Safe, Party Sober

I have spent nearly four decades in rural Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa as a principal, coach or   superintendent, and during this time, I have seen over 1600 students graduate from the four communities.  Graduation is one of the most exciting happenings in any family as it is for the school and community. However, graduation parties are a double edge sword for many, both in and out of education.  The parties are a celebration of this great event, but it appears for many that alcohol is a prerequisite. I question the need for alcohol at these important events as much as, if not more than, Tom Osborne has questioned the need for alcohol to watch  a sporting event.  There are too many young people around both the football game and the graduation party. The idea that alcohol is needed at either event sends a strong message to young people, and that message is clearly stronger than any of the advertisements against  underage drinking. If parents want to give a message to their child, let it be that our families and communities can do without alcohol at a graduation party. 

Submitted by Ed Rastovski, Retired Superintendent

I want to thank our board member for submitting this article and I appreciate that it is still relevant today.  As we prepare to watch many young adults step out into the world – let us collectively ensure that they all get the chance to enjoy life, live life and laugh.  They have the world by a sting!