Yesterday was an enlightening experience for me. I learned, at long last, what is causing the "carnage on the highways".
I was invited to take part in a 1/2-hour debate yesterday with the CEO of MADD, Charles Hurley. The taped debate was part of the Justice Talking series on National Public Radio, broadcast from the Annenberg Public Policy Center in Philadelphia (it will be broadcast the week of June 11th). I was in the NPR studio in Los Angeles, Mr. Hurley in Washington, D.C., and the moderator in Philadelphia.
Mr. Hurley started by trumpeting MADD's new campaign to require greater use of ignition interlock devices (IIDs). I mentioned MADD's recent press release entitled "MADD Announces National Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving", and questioned whether their "4-point plan" could actually "wipe out drunk driving in the United States" as claimed. The plan consists of (1) more roadblocks and roving patrols, (2) increased use of ignition interlock devices, (3) appointing a blue-ribbon committee to study possible technology, and (4) "mobilization of grass-roots support" (which, I assume, means more contributions to pad MADD's usual take of $52 million a year). Certainly nothing new there — nothing to reduce the static fatality figures, much less to "eliminate" or "wipe out" drunk driving altogether.
At one point, I questioned Mr. Hurley why the fatality statistics have remained unchanged for 13 years — despite the increasingly Draconian laws, harsh penalties and unconstitutional procedures so successfully advocated by MADD during that same period. I mentioned Albert Einstein's oft-quoted definition of insanity: "Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result". (Unfortunately, the irony of the terms "MADD" and "insanity" escaped me at the time.)
The reason for the continuing fatalities, Mr. Hurley calmly explained, is that defense lawyers are more concerned with their clients' constitutional rights than with their clients' victims.
A remarkable comment. And an insight into the thinking at the top of MADD's bureaucracy. I can only assume that the next press release will announce yet another end to drunk driving — by denying DUI defendants the right to counsel.
And for those of you who think Mr. Hurley was simply exaggerating or pulling my chain, the following is from a recent report entitled "“Impaired Driving Guidebook: Three Keys to Renewed Focus and Success”, issued by MADD jointly with the federal government’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. From page 16 of that document:
HURDLES TO REFORM
- A judiciary that struggles to define itself and maintain its objectivity in the face of aggressive defense attorneys.
- An organized DUI defense bar more concerned with “winning a case” than with the carnage on our streets and highways…
And yet another constitutional right will go down the drain in the ongoing "War on Drunk Driving".