Posts Tagged ‘Victim Rights’

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



Friday, Dec. 3rd the Greater Omaha area held an educational “wet lab” to demonstrate just how many drinks it really takes to reach .08 BAC (blood alcohol content).  There were more than half a dozen volunteers that were drinking and then equal amount of law enforcement Drug Recognition Experts (DRE) on hand to monitor the impact alcohol had on the volunteer drinkers. Most volunteer drinkers felt that they would not want to drive after they reached a limit of .05 BAC.

Also there was a press conference where First Lady Sally Ganem spoke about the need for parents to talk to their youth about the dangers of underage drinking and keeping a close eye on our children this holiday season. 

Attorney General Jon Bruning stepped up to the plate at the press conference stating that his office and several key senators were working to implement changes to hold offenders accountable:

Changes in the law would include:

  • Mandatory ignition interlock for all offenders .08 and above
  • DUI/Child Endangerment as a Felony Offense
  • Higher penalties for those that procure for minors, including jail time
  • Enhanced BUI for boating under the influence
  • Distinct crime for DUI homicide and serious bodily injury  

These are all welcome changes for our members and supporters.  When you consider the fact that DUI is the most frequently committed crime in our state with more than 13,000 arrests in 2009 and the fact that 1 person dies every 4 days in our state due to an alcohol-related crash and 1 person is injured every 3 hours – Attorney General Bruning, and the Nebraska Unicameral, is spot on to address the need to enhance penalties and hold offenders accountable.

Contact your state senator and let them know you support increased penalties for DUI homicide and injury, DUI Child Endangerment, BUI enhancements. The most important letter you can write this holiday is not to Santa but to your state senator requesting  that the Unicameral pass a bill implementing  mandatory ignition interlock on every offender’s car we want them to – “Blow Before You Go”.  This legislation will save lives, support the fabric of our community and hold those who make the choice to drink and drive accountable for their crime.

A special note of thanks goes out to the Sarpy County Sheriff’s Department, and all participating law enforcement agencies, and to Fire Guard for their hospitality on Friday!


Here at MADD we do not use the word accident when referring to a drunk driving case and/or incident.  Using the word accident minimizes the impact of the crime committed by the drunk driver in our community.

An “accident” happens by chance.  An “accident” is not anyone’s fault.  Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary defines “accident” as an event occurring by chance or arising from unknown causes;lack of intention or necessity.

Drunk driving is a deliberate act by a person who makes the deliberate decision to threaten the lives of other people.  Impaired drivers make two clear choices: 1) to use alcohol and/or other drugs and 2) to drive.  The tragedy therefore, could have been prevented. It is a 100% preventable crime.

When a person is involved in an alcohol-related motor vehicle incident, MADD uses the words “crash”, “wreck”, or “crime” to describe the consequences of drunk driving crash. 

MADD would encourage everyone to be mindful of the fact that drunk driving is NO accident – drunk driving is a crime.  Our community safety depends on our shifting attitudes about drunk driving – remember drunk driving is a choice and those that make a choice to drive drunk do so with intent.

If you or someone you know has been impacted by drunk driving  I encourage you to contact MADD 800/444/6233.

We help survivors survive!

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.

This is a tough pill to swallow.  Sarpy County District Judge Arterburn issued a 14-page ruling agreeing with the defense attorney that the golf course (where a golf cart crash killed a woman) was not open to public access at the time of the fatal wreck.  Hmm, does thisgolfcart imply if the golf cart crash had taken place in the open hours it would have meant that felony motor vehicle homicide did take place?  The offender, Kimberly McIllece had a blood alocohol content of .198 more than twice the legal limit.

 “Clearly an individual who is twice the legal limit and driving a motorized vehicle is a public health issue for all of us” stated Senator Tony Fulton, District 29.

Nebraska Unicameral

When a person gets into any recreational vehicle and drives over the legal limit resulting in a death they need to be held accountable.  Each of us has a duty to call on our state senator and let them know that we are concerned for our public safety. This is an issue that will not cost the tax payer any money to clear up and will result in stronger and more consistent treatment of those who make the choice to break our state laws. 

You have the voice – – and now you have the resource.  E-mail your state senator and let them know that we want to make sure that those who drive drunk are held accountable and especially at night!  It does not matter if you are operating a boat, a motorcycle or a golf cart.  Here in Nebraska we have standards and that standard is .08.

There is no time like the present.  With a Special Session around the bend your state senator will be in Linclon.  The tax revenues may be low but our standards can still stay high.  Thank you for taking time to voice your concern – every victim deserves a voice.  Thanks for yours!

Designate a Sober Driver Even When boating

Designate a Sober Driver Even When boating

MADD is most disheartened to read about yet another drunk boating fatality in the greater Omaha area.  Our support goes out to the family of the victim. Here at MADD we applaud the Douglas County Attorney for putting forth manslaughter. When a person makes the choice to drink and drive, any vehicle, over the legal limit that person simply must be held accountable.

In 2205, CBS Early Show did a report highlighting Drunk Boating. The Judge in this report was on the fore front and we can only hope our Douglas County Judges take the same hard look at Drunk Boating.

Here in Nebraska, MADD asks everyone to Designate a Sober Driver image712672gwhen making plans to engage in any recreational activity: Golfing, Boating, ATV, Hunting. 

Nationwide 40% of boating fatalities involved alcohol – that is 100% preventable.

Simera Reynolds, M.Ed

State Executive Director