Some words for Mothers Against Drunk Driving

President of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), Glynn Birch, issued this response to the recent Parade Magazine article, “Should the Drinking Age be Lowered?

“We are deeply disappointed in Parade Magazine‚Äôs flawed article on the discussions centered around lowering the drinking age. Unfortunately, Parade decided to emphasize the junk science promoted by a few over the longstanding and substantial, peer-reviewed evidence that proves the 21 law saves lives. The fact is there are at least 23,000 Americans alive today because of the 21 law.

It is regrettable that our friends at MADD, with whom we share an unambiguous opposition to drunk driving, have chosen such intemperate language to respond to the August 12 article in Parade Magazine. The following facts cannot be so easily dismissed as “junk science:”

  • According to Ralph Hingson, in two separate peer-reviewed studies, more than 1,000 18-24 year-old lives are lost to alcohol each year in places other than on the roads. That number has been increasing since 1998.
  • According to NHTSA, more lives were saved in two years (2002 and 2003) than have allegedly been saved in the history of Legal Age 21.
  • According to Alexander Wagenaar, fewer than half of the peer reviewed studies on the subject have shown any relationship between the drinking age and the decline in alcohol-related traffic fatalities.

–[CR] Director John McCardell

You may also want to check out, MADD’s (well-inspired) response to the increasing prominence of the drinking age debate. We believe that imitation is the highest form of flattery!

5 Responses to “Some words for Mothers Against Drunk Driving”

  1. Roman T Solohub Says:

    It seems any science that contradicts MADD’s “cherry picked” science is “junk science.” I’m tired of “agenda driven” science. Let’s get down to the issues. I thought we already had laws against drunk driving…at any age; why not raise the drinking age to 31 or 41, better yet, let’s abolish drinking; what, that’s been tried, oh yeah, it didn’t work.

    If we really wanted to impact automobile safety we’d raise the driving age, but then maybe the mother’s in MADD would be forced to drive their kids everywhere and we wouldn’t want to inconvenience them now, would we?

    The 21 and under demographic has no powerful lobbying group on Capitol Hill so they become the brunt of the ambivalent and unscientific policies of our government which misleads our society. Take their rights away; they won’t complain. Let them vote, get married, drive heavy machinery, fly airplanes, get killed for their country, but god forbid they have a beer! Call them adults in all things except in the use of alcohol. Expect them to be accountable for their actions, but force them to hide in the back of an alley to chug their booze, because, you know, they’re not 21. Ignore the experts who actually use research to make the determination that the age 21 policy just may be counterproductive to responsible alcohol consumption. Ignore the examples set by Italy, Greece, Germany, and other countries that have much more reasonable laws, and yet have fewer problems with alcohol abuse. Set a standard that is illogical just because you can. This is idiocy, but money and the stigma attached to alcohol use talks.

    Drinking and driving is irresponsible at any age. Our goal, collectively, should be to educate those who choose to drink alcohol how to do so responsibly, not to turn them into criminals because of ill conceived laws.

    Roman T. Solohub

    Author: Clear Thinking When Drinking: The Handbook for Responsible Alcohol Consumption

  2. Robert Says:

    MADD has been hijacked by modern day prohibition from the religious right. We need to repeal the National Minimum Drinking Age Act, so states like Vermont can have a chance to try out proposals like Choose Responsibilties. If MADD is so passionate about getting drunk drivers off the roads than why don’t they ever lobby for more public transport to get drunk people out of their cars and into buses or subways?

  3. Chris Says:

    It seems to me that since 1984, vehicle safety has been steadily increased. Things like mandatory seatbelt laws, airbags, anti-lock brakes, stability control, etc have outpaced the increasing of the drinking age when it comes to saving lives.

    With that many advancements in vehicle safety, how can MADD say that raising the minimum drinking age to 21 is the cause of reduction of vehicle fatalities?

    It also seems to me that not every business that sells alcohol abides by the law, and if someone who is 18 or 19 really wants a drink, they will drive…sometimes great distances…to get to those places. And since they are already doing something illegal, why not be even more irresponsible and get trashed? So the liklihood of drunk driving is increased.

    It makes no sense to me. Teach kids responsibility when it comes to alcohol, and don’t make it something that is taboo.

  4. Lew Bryson Says:


    A small quibble: it concerns me to see the religious right always blamed for anti-alcohol activities. Alcohol is way down their list of priorities, and any anti-alcohol lobbying they do is mostly on an unorganized, local level. The powerful forces against alcohol, the true New Drys, are secular, and apolitical: groups like PIRE, CAMY, and CSPI.

    That was true of Prohibition, too. There was a strong religious component, but there was also a solid sector of Prohibitionism that came from Modernists, Progressives, and medicine. Prohibition passed with support from Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives. MADD and the New Drys have similarly broad support.

  5. Dan Says:

    I am sorry to inform MADD, but the reality is that there are plenty of “underage” adults that still drink and drive on a regular basis, regardless of a sensless drinking age that no one really follows anyway. The legal age of 21 does nothing but discriminate against young adults,and it does not work. The legal drinking age is 18 in the majority of the rest of the world. Even Canada has a legal age of 19. Do Canadians really mature 2 years faster than Americans? No, they do not. The difference is that their government actually trusts young adults to make responsible decisions and ours does not, mostly because of groups like MADD who think that all young adults are idiots.