Archive for the ‘Victim’s Rights’ Category

Many of us impacted by drunk driving never planned on being in the court room.  In fact, most of us work hard to stay out of the court room by being law abiding citizens.  However, when someone you know and love is injured or killed in an alcohol-related crash you immediately become a victim of the crime.  A 100 % preventable crime.

It is not uncommon for victims/survivors to feel powerless and intimidated by the criminal justice system.  When you have been victimized by another person’s actions, it is often hard to drum up the energy to not only cope with the trauma of the loss but then sustain your energy to follow the court case to the end.

Sometimes I think the offender counts on us wearing down and not maintaining our resolve to see the case through to the end.  In countless cases, including today’s case involving the four motorcyclists killed in Iowa, I see victim’s families hang in there to ensure that justice is in fact served.  The guilty plea may be in but that is only another chapter and much work needs to be done prior to sentencing.

This is where the victim’s voice can be heard, at last, through your personal Victim Impact Statement.

Laws exist in every state which allows for the victim/survivors to provide a written statement and read it in court.  These statements are presented after the defendant has been convicted and prior to sentencing. MADD has a workbook titled “Your Victim Impact Statement” to guide you through the process of creating your personal victim impact statement.

Staying an active participant in the criminal court process may cause stress or it may help to diffuse energy that could be used for emotional, physical and spiritual resolve.  Participating in the criminal court process can give some victim/survivors a sense of completeness and closure. It will not cause you to grieve any less or erase the horror of the injury or death of a loved one.  Nevertheless, it may provide you some sense of accomplishment.  We never knew the impact was coming but we sure can make our voices heard in honor of those we love and care so deeply about……their life was not in vain if you take time to tell the court that your loss is not a number. No, your loss is person that provided love, laughs and ongoing friendship that can never be replace in this lifetime.

At MADD,  we help survivors survive


January 25th, a date set in my head for years now.  More specifically, January 25th, 2002 in New Mexico where four Nebraskan’s lost their lives to a nine time repeat offender.  January was a rough month with multiple fatalties here in Nebraska and 2002 ended up being one of the toughest years for alcohol-related crashes with a total of 115 deaths due to an alcohol-related crash and that is just in our state.

I can still remember traveling to New Mexico to be an advocate in the courtroom, for both families,  providing support and a strong shoulder as each family read their victim impact statements, in federal court, about how their loved ones would be forever missed. 

Dale, Jim and Jerry soon became strong supporters of MADD, active at the community and state level and to this day I feel very fortuante to count them as a friend of MADD.  The Beller family has been a strong advocate for mandatory ignition interlock legislation. They first worked with Governor Richardson in New Mexico.  New Mexico was the first to mandate ignition interlock and  over the last few years we have had data supporting that “offenders while on ignition interlock do not re-offend 95% of the time”.

Nebraska does have an ignition interlock law but LB 625 offers a means to mandate for all offenders at .08 and above.  MADD strongly supports this action as a means to ensure every offender is held accountable, pays for his/her crime and ignition interlock ensures public safety.

Today, in memory of the Bellers and the Ramaekers I want to urge you to fight for your fellow Nebraskans and write your state senator to support LB 625, introduced by State Senator Tony Fulton.

In this day and age, it takes but five minutes to e-mail a note to your senator.  The state senators need to know that we care about our loved ones and we want every family member to arrive home from the day to share the next day ahead.  With your voice MADD can strive to meet the goals set in our Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving.

All of us to should look to those impacted by drunk driving and say enough is enough, there is a better way and for the sake of our families we must be willing to encourge our policy makers to hold those that make the choice to drive drunk accountable.

If you or someone you know has been impacted by an alcohol-related crash please know that MADD is here to support you through the court process and the years ahead. 24 hour hotline: 877-623-3435

What Is Resilience?

Resilience is the power to cope with adversity and adapt to challenges or change. It is a process of drawing on beliefs, behaviors, skills, and attitudes to move beyond stress, trauma, or tragedy. Although naturally stronger in some personalities, it can also be learned. Resilient people have a range of strengths such as optimism, self-knowledge, personal meaning , and the ability to foster relationships and care for themselves and others. By mobilizing these powers, they confront life’s obstacles and emerge with greater wisdom, flexibility, and strength.

Here at MADD, we strive to support those impacted by drunk driving and our hearts are full of sorrow when any sudden loss takes place in the community. 

Why Resilience Matters 

Life doesn’t always go the way we wish or expect.  Problems arise in the family, the workplace, and the neighborhood.  Relationships end, children leave home, we lose our job, we get sick, or a loved one dies.  Things change, and there’s so much we can’t control, particularly after September 11, 2001.  We can no longer expect to feel secure.  But most of us do successfully adjust to changes in our lives.  How do we do it?  

The ability to adapt to challenges and change is known as resilience.  Think of resilience as elasticity or flexibility. Resilience is not rare.  It is more like “ordinary magic” because everyone is resilient in some ways.  And whenever you recover from a setback and get better at coping with life’s difficulties, you become even more resilient. 

Being resilient doesn’t mean that you stop having problems or are not affected by difficulties.  It doesn’t mean you are not sad when a relationship ends or that you are not worried about your family’s physical and financial well-being.  It doesn’t mean having answers to all of life’s problems.  Being resilient means finding ways to cope with problems that arise, taking care of yourself and those around you, and emerging stronger than before.  

  Tragic events are tough on our community life.  When you focus on resilience, you can see how strong you already are and can become even stronger-to successfully navigate whatever life brings your way.  Just as emergency instructions on airplanes tell you to put the oxygen mask on yourself first before assisting others, recognizing how to be resilient makes you better able to help your children, spouse, partner, coworkers, neighbors, and community lead fuller, more productive, and truly joyous lives. 

The other day one of the MADD past state chairs, for Nebraska, came into the state office to see us.  One would think it was a routine visit to catch up on what is new, taking information about MADD and our mission to the schools (as she has for the last five years in October) or even to see if we needed assistance with any upcoming events.

This visit was NOT routine. Kay was instrumental in helping me understand accounting as I became the executive director of MADD in 2000. Kay then offered her leadership as treasurer and state chair. She was nothing short of inspiring!  For one, she was interested in MADD and she had not been victimized by the crime. She sincerely wanted to be a part of an organization that was meaningful and she strived to ensure the safety of our communities as a MADD volunteer for more than decade.

This day Kay’s visit was different.  She did pick up materials for the middle school to deliver our message to youth about underage drinking prevention, not to ride with a drinking driver and to always wear a seatbelt.

However, her status had changed – Kay too was now a victim of this 100% preventable crime.  Her nephew had been injured and his wife killed in a recent alcohol-related motor vehicle crash in Omaha.

Although she stood strong, I could see the pain etched into her face. I have seen this in so many faces of families MADD has supported during a sudden loss or injury caused by drunk driving.  A crime in so many ways!

Drunk driving knows no boundaries and certainly does not discriminate.  It can knock on our door any time and any day of the year.  Our hearts go out to Kay and her family as they begin a “new normal” for what they knew prior to the crash has been forever erased – a pain that cannot be mended and a loss that will never leave their hearts.

If you or someone you know has been impacted by drunk driving always know MADD is here to support you “We help Survivors Survive” 1-877-623-3435 or contact MADD at

In Nebraska, our hearts go out to the many families who now have had their lives forever changed due to an impaired driving crash that was senseless and 100% preventable.  The families, friends, neighbors and all of the community is left shocked, bereaved and devastated.

For the victim/survivor families, they  have to face the emotional loss, legal jargon (that most of us never want to know) and a financial climb that is daunting at the very least. 

MADD Victim Services offers emotional support, information, and guidance on the long road through court to those impacted by the violent crime of impaired driving.   MADD provides these services free of charge and are provided by a trained victim advocate. MADD Nebraska – 800-444-6233.

One of the very hardest parts about a drunk driving crash is the fact that there was “No Time For Goodbyes”.  Here at MADD we understand the pain and hurt caused by a drunk driver. 

Our mission is: to sop drunk driving, support those impacted by this violent crime and prevent underage drinking.

Victim/Survivor Helpline

Call 1-877-MADD-HELP (877-623-3435) to speak with a Victim Advocate. 


Find brochures and  articles that might be helpful.


Connect with victims/survivors nationwide. Share your story in a password-protected forum.

Moderated chat: 
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Thursdays – 8:30 p.m. CT

Wednesdays – Spanish – 8:30 p.m. CT

Here at MADD we want to acknowledge that April 18 is the beginning of Crime Victims’ Rights Week.  The first National Crime Victims’ Rights Week was launched by President Ronald Reagan in 1981, a year after the founding of Mothers Against Drunk Driving in 1980.

Thanks to the vision and action of many, and in particular President Reagan, every state has passed a victims’ rights law and  there are a multitude of statutes in every state that empower crime victims with hard-won legal protections.

In Nebraska, LB 270 was passed (41– 4) in 2004 to secure the enacting legislation to ensure ALL victims had the right to present their victim impact statement at sentencing and that victims of crime had the right to be in court.  In our state county attorneys have the duty to contact those impacted by crime and assure them of their rights.

MADD Nebraska has a trained victim advocate on staff and two trained volunteer victim advocates to assist those impacted by

Need help to pick up the pieces - 800-MADD-HELP

drunk driving.  If you are a victim of an alcohol-related crash please know that we are here to support you as you navigate through court, financial struggles, property damage, injuries and grief.  Our motto is “we help survivors survive” and we do it with dignity, respect and the fairness you deserve.

Many of us never thought we would find ourselves needing anyone to help but all too often something bad does happen and then you have pieces to pick up. We just want you to know you don’t have to do it alone.

Posted: February 24, 2010 in Victim's Rights
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Judiciary Committee

Nebraska Unicameral

February 24, 2010

LB 1075 – Support

Simera Reynolds, M.Ed., MADD State Executive Director

 Chairman Ashford and members of the committee, on behalf of MADD our members, victims and survivors, I am here to support Legislative Bill 1075.  MADD would like to see Nebraska join the other 42 states that currently have some component of a Dram Shop Law in place in their state. MADD supports LB 1075 as a measure to ensure equitable treatment from state to state for victims impacted by an alcohol-related crash.

Research clearly shows that when this law is implemented lives are saved. In 2001, researchers found a 5.8 percent decrease in fatal crashes from dram shop liability laws.* Researchers discerned that establishments found it was in the best economic interests to ensure solid and responsible serving practices.

 For Nebraska, a 5 percent decrease would mean approximately 3 lives saved.  It may seem cliché but at MADD we know that the legislative body repeatedly states that if “they can save one life it is worth our work as a body” to ensure the quality of life in the state of Nebraska.  Well the Unicameral, collectively, has an opportunity not only to save one life but three lives.  Three families will be spared the pain of losing a provider, a mentor and a caregiver.  We cannot put a financial dollar to what it means to have your loved one killed or injured in an alcohol-related crash. However, we can ensure that there is a means to recover damages when an establishment fails to follow the law as prescribed in the Nebraska Liquor Control Act.

 MADD knows, all too well, patrons are over served. Those very patrons then make the choice to get behind a wheel of 2,000 bullet and drive!

Nationwide, the median BAC (blood alcohol content) for alcohol-related traffic deaths is .17.  In Nebraska, there were a little more than 13,660 arrests in 2008 (NOHS). Research shows us that of those arrests, approximately one-third tested with a BAC of .15 or higher.  This is clearly not social drinking and is well past the point of intoxication.

 LB 1075 would provide for recourse for victims impacted by an alcohol-related crash.  Recourse that is already allowed in 42 others states in the United States.