Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) cannot make up its mind about designated driving. The group, which often finds itself at odds with other national groups trying to reduce drunk driving, contradicted itself on October 16th on the topic of designated driving. The story starts this past week as headlines were made when a North Andover high School student was called by a friend who had been drinking at a party. The narrative goes that the Good Samaritan agreed to pick up the friend who called for help getting home so that nobody would have to drive impaired. However, upon arrival at the party the now designated driver was accidentally cited by police who assumed she was one of the party attendees. Even though the party was not in North Andover, and even though it was not a school function, the Good Samaritan designated driver was stripped of her captainship of the high School volleyball team and suspended for 5 games as punishment for her good deed.
Many have pointed to this as an example of zero-tolerance gone horribly wrong and a debate has been raging in the media and in the homes of many Mass. residents. MADD president Jan Withers was contacted by Foxnews.com on October 16th, and asked for her opinion on the subject. Withers commented saying “Underage drinking is so very dangerous, that’s why MADD appreciates this school’s effort. I’m not there and I don’t know all of the details, but indeed, their efforts to prevent underage drinking through zero tolerance are admirable." The Fox story also says for clarification and added context that Withers said the student should have phone an adult.
Some might find this position by MADD to be shortsighted, particularly since MADD has made public service videos featuring students pledging to be designated drivers. As the video below shows, MADD has used students to promote designated driving, even casting them on campus at sports arenas. In the video the spokesperson for MADD says “What’s one of the most important thing you can do to help friends? Be the person who makes the winning drive home. Be the person who stays sober. Be the one that makes a difference and saves lives. Be a designated driver.” Apparently if one does exactly that they will not have the backing of the president of MADD. Or of their school.