Mothers Against Drunk Driving

Mothers Against Drunk Driving

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), formerly Mothers Against Drunk Drivers, is a Texas-based nonprofit organization that fights drunk driving, underage drinking and assists the victims of drunk driving and their families.


The organization was founded in 1980 by Candace Lightner, whose 13 year old daughter was killed by a hit and run drunk driver in California. The driver was a repeat offender, and the sentence handed down outraged Lightner. She formed MADD in response. A television movie about her experiences was released in 1983 which helped the organization rise in national prominence.

According to the original articles of foundation, MADD’s mission was “to aid the victims of crimes performed by individuals driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, to aid the families of such victims and to increase public awareness of the problem of drinking and drugged driving.”

In 1984, MADD achieved a national victory with the passage of the National Minimum Drinking Age Act. The federal government would withhold 10% of federal highway funds to any state that did not comply with raising the minimum drinking age. Lightner left the organization the following year citing what she perceived to be MADD’s increasing interest in alcohol prohibition rather than fighting drunk driving.

Over the next 15 years MADD continued to grow in size and influence. In 1999, it began focusing much of its efforts on underage drinking prevention, and the mission statement was updated to reflect that, stating “The mission of Mothers Against Drunk Driving is to stop drunk driving, support the victims of this violent crime and prevent underage drinking.”

Victims’ services

Since its inception, the hallmark of MADD’s mission has been to provide services to the victims of drunk driving. Today, MADD provides support through a variety of means.

  • Finding Support: MADD strives to provide victims and their families with legal and financial support. 1,400 victim advocates nationwide assist victims with emotional and legal support, resource referral and connecting victims in order to share stories and experiences.
  • Victims’ Rights: When someone has been killed or injured by a drunk driver, MADD can assist the victims with protecting and promoting their rights, including preparing an impact statement and understanding what rights they have under the law. It also utilizes funding by the Victims of Crime Act and the Crime Victims Fund to provide financial assistance to victims.
  • Tributes: MADD is dedicated to ensuring that victims and their stories do not simply
    become statistics. Through several initiatives the organization provides tributes for victims.
  • Online Outreach: A more recent addition to MADD’s support system has been the use of online media to help victims. It maintains an online message board where victims and their families can connect with others, a twice weekly live chat with victims and survivors and a presence on social media, such as facebook, to facilitate connections.

Underage Drinking Resources

Since 1999, MADD’s mission has focused heavily on underage drinking and, it maintains a large online resource for parents and children on the impact of underage drinking and how to prevent it. MADD has developed a curriculum, called Protecting You/Protecting Me, designed for children in grades 1-5 to learn about the impacts of underage drinking. It also sponsors Red Ribbon Week every October to encourage alcohol and drug free living.

Additional Resources


A plaque honoring a law enforcement official for his dedication to preventing drunk driving.

(Image by Phil Konstantin. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.)