"It has become far more neo-prohibitionist than I had ever wanted or envisioned," said Lightner in a 2002 Washington Times interview. "I didn't start MADD to deal with alcohol. I started MADD to deal with the issue of drunk driving."
Now, MADD has lobbied Congress to enforce its neo-prohibitionist philosophy on all Americans. The Senate Transportation Reauthorization Bill (S. 1813), passed Wednesday, was amended to include funding for the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS) — a federal program working to create alcohol detection systems for installation in all cars. The bill appropriates $24 million in additional funding over 2 years for the research program. This is a massive increase from the $10 million the program received over the last 5 years.
As a National Highway Transportation Safety Administration presentation revealed, the program’s big-picture objective mirrors MADD’s extreme interlock agenda: “DADSS in every vehicle.”
MADD once claimed that the use of this technology would be strictly voluntary. Now, as the devices grow close to completion, the story has changed: MADD hopes they’ll be used in all cars.
Even if these alcohol detection devices were manufactured to six sigma standards and 99.99966 percent were default free, it would still mean over 4,000 misreadings per day. That means every day, thousands of sober drivers could find their cars locked down by a faulty interlock– bringing chaos to personal and professional lives as a matter of course.
DADSS supporters claim the alcohol detectors would be voluntary and set at 0.08, but there is a mountain of evidence showing that their true goal is to put alcohol sensing technology in all cars as original equipment, set well below the 0.08 level.
The anti-alcohol movement knows full well that it’s impossible, for physiological and liability reasons, to set interlocks at the 0.08 legal BAC limit. Instead, they’d likely be preset as low as 0.02 – the BAC of an average male after one beer. Under MADD’s rule, you’d better not get any big ideas about that glass of wine at dinner or a champagne toast at your daughter’s wedding.
These new policies would not only decimate America’s hospitality industry, but would have a chilling effect on personal freedom. An America where cars cannot start if an individual has had one serving of alcohol would be far less free, far less prosperous and, in all likelihood, far less friendly. Life would be a cross between the Prohibition era and George Orwell’s 1984. American’s should let their voices be heard on this issue now -- before we let the neo-prohibitionists treat all of us like criminals.
Longwell is the managing director of the American Beverage Institute.