Posts Tagged ‘Legislation’

  Transportation Committee

LB 625 – Support

Feb. 28, 2011

Simera Reynolds, Executive Director, MADD NE   

First, MADD would like to thank Senator Fulton for his leadership in introducing LB 625 mandatory ignition interlock for all offenders arrested at .08 and above and recognizing the transportation of our children while over the state legal limit (.08) as a felony offense.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving commends Senator Fulton for bringing this issue to the legislative body once again.  We all know drunk driving is a crime and a violent crime that kills one person in our state every five days.

Despite the fact that life saving technology exists, it is not uncommon for the courts to ask the offender if he wants it installed.  The law requiring ignition interlock, in its current state, is an optional law. For MADD optional = offender friendly. In 2009, there were more than 13,000 arrests for DWI, our state conviction rate stands at about 86 % and yet in 2009 there were only 1,800 ignition interlocks in use.

Recently, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) released that ignition interlocks do cut drunk driving and reduce recidivism.  Nebraska policy makers already knew this and acted when they passed LB 736.  However, it is clear that the use of ignition interlock has not been adopted at the county court level.  From our Court Monitoring Program, we can see that there is clearly an inconsistent use of this life saving device at best.

As a state, we have the duty to provide lifesaving technology when an offender has been found guilty of driving while intoxicated.  Not just for some but for every offender at .08 and above.

Additionally, the cost of this device is carried by the offender and does not cost the state monies.  MADD wants to see those that make the choice to drive drunk held accountable. Ignition interlock will do just that.

Second, MADD wants to articulate our strong support for a felony offense provision for those that make the choice to drive over the legal limit (.08). Adults that drink and drive with children in the vehicle are child abusers.  Child endangerment laws serve to protect innocent children from child abusers, not only those that are physically or emotionally abusive, but also those who victimize a child by driving impaired.

Currently, in our state, a DWI offender that is transporting a child can be found in violation of child endangerment law.  However, they are typically charged as two  separate offenses and one is all too often plead away. 

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.

MADD would ask that you support LB 625, with the appropriate amendments, and send it to the full floor of the legislature for full debate.  Thank you for your time today.

Contact your state senator today to give our youth a voice.  Together we can protect our children and support lifesaving technology.  You voice will make a difference!

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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.http://www.roads.nebraska.gov/nohs/pdf/al6crafat.pdf

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. http://www.nebraskalegislature.gov/senators/senator_list.php

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. http://www.madd.org/drunk-driving/campaign/

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

In May 2000, the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) published “Characteristics of Child Passenger deaths and injuries involving Drinking Drivers.”  The study found that two-thirds of all children ages 14 and under that were killed in an alcohol-related crash were in fact riding with a drinking driver old enough to be the parent, caregiver or guardian. http://jama.ama-assn.org/content/283/17/2249.full

 Protecting children is a value Nebraskans cherish. Yet, despite the fact drunk driving is a violent crime, driving while impaired with children riding in the vehicle is not a commonly acknowledged form of child endangerment or child abuse in our state.  No child should have to choose to ride with an impaired driver.  However, minor children have little choice when the driver is the parent or other adult caregiver.

 Child endangerment laws protect innocent children from child abusers, not only those who are physically or emotionally abusive, but those who victimize a child by driving over the legal limit (.08 BAC). An impaired driver makes the choice to drink and drive. The child has no voice and no choice when it comes to riding with the parent or adult caregiver.

It is clear that innocent children who count on parents and caregivers to protect them from danger are in fact being placed at risk when riding with an adult over the legal limit.  MADD supports LB 625, making driving with a child (15 and under) when the adult is over the legal limit (.08 BAC) a felony offense.

 MADD knows we can make a difference in the lives of children, our most precious cargo, who are endangered by impaired drivers.  Write your state senator and support LB 625, as introduced by State Senator Tony Fulton or LB 667, introduced by Speaker Flood both versions contain a child endangerment while intoxicated provision. http://www.nebraskalegislature.gov/index.php

MADD stands strong on the felony offense.  MADD implores everyone to make a difference in the lives of children who cannot protect themselves.

I want to share an important message that came from our MADD national office about legislation in Washington, D.C.  I usually don’t get into federal topics too much but this one impacts every one of us as we are a mobile society

This Week, the U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote on a bill that can help eliminate drunk driving by “turning cars into the cure” through the development of advanced alcohol detection technology.

  

Please email your Representative by clicking here to urge support of this lifesaving bill. 

MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving is closing in on a major milestone but we need your help. As you know, MADD is working to “turn cars into the cure” by supporting advanced alcohol detection technology which will one day allow cars to determine if the driver is drunk.  If the driver’s BAC is at or above .08, the car won’t start.  The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety estimates this technology could save over 8,000 lives per year. http://www.iihs.org/news/rss/pr091709.html

Last month, Maryland Congressman John Sarbanes offered an amendment to the Motor Vehicle Safety Act to provide the critical funding necessary to fully develop this exciting new technology.  The amendment was approved in the House Energy and Commerce Committee by voice vote. 

This week we expect the U.S. House of Representatives to consider the Motor Vehicle Safety Act and MADD needs you to contact your congressman and ask for their support of this legislation which could literally eliminate drunk driving. 

Please take action and urge your Member of Congress to eliminate drunk driving by “turning cars into the cure.”

 

On behalf of MADD and our members across the state,  MADD strongly supports a “uniform bar closing” across the state to deter barhopping.  Also, it is important to be mindful of law enforcement shift changes and the potential impact to the city/county or state budget or worse to cause a void in DUI arrests resulting in serious injuries or death.

 In Nebraska in  2009, the state saw an increase in alcohol-related motor vehicle fatalities.  A concern MADD can not overlook.

 Uniform Bar Closing

MADD advocates setting uniform statewide cut off-limits on the sale of alcoholic beverages in order to end the practice of “barhopping” to find establishments with later closing hours for “one last drink” with the likelihood of impaired driving as a result.

 Please take a moment to let Governor Heineman and your state senator know that you do not support each city having the ability to close at different times.

 MADD strongly supports uniform bar closing.  It doesn’t matter if it is 1 am or 2 am but the closing across the state needs to be uniform to prevent bar hopping from town to town.

 Please let State Senator Colby Coash know you do not support the amendment for individual towns to determine their hours of operation.

Your voice will make the difference.  Thanks you so much for your support and passion. Act today as the vote will come Friday or Monday.

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.

Quick update on the staus of LB 497, introduced by Senator Fulton ,  it did pass on General File on Thursday with only 2  no votes.  This is a much needed piece of legislation to ensure that the ignition interlock law is harmonized with federal regulations.  Please take time to thank your state sentor for their support and encourage Senator Friend and Louden to support the bill on Select File.  To urge your senator to support our much need ignition interlock bill go to: http://www.nebraskalegislature.gov/senators/senator_list.php and send your senator a quick note.  The only reason drunk drivers continue to drive drunk is because they can.  You have the power  – voice your support!

Simera Reynolds

State Executive Director