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Anti-alcohol Zeal Has Replaced MADD's Common Sense

Anti-alcohol Zeal Has Replaced MADD's Common Sense

John Doyle, Scripps Howard News Service

It started when you brought your kids to the restaurant. Anxiety began to set in when you ordered that single glass of wine. Driving home, you hit a police roadblock. And the courts took your kids away.

Sound like the trailer for a bad movie? It's actually a top priority for Mothers Against Drunk Driving. This previously admirable group has slipped into pure anti-alcohol zealotry with its ''zero tolerance'' campaign against drinking anything at all before driving. If you are a divorced parent who drives your kids safely home after having a single drink, MADD wants you to lose your parental rights. That's right, MADD wants this Prohibitionist requirement written into every separation agreement and divorce decree.

Reducing the legal blood-alcohol concentration, or BAC, arrest threshold to zero - whether for divorced parents or anyone else - may sound like a get-tough policy, but even MADD knows that won't lessen the drunk driving problem. During the last few years, nearly every state in the nation has reduced its BAC limit from .10 percent to .08 percent. The result? Drunk driving fatalities have actually increased.

The Los Angeles Times recently reported ''some experts worry that new laws will actually reduce the attention placed on catching highly intoxicated drivers that cause the most deadly accidents.'' Indeed, the founder of MADD says ''the movement I helped create has lost direction. (Lowering legal BAC limits) ignores the real core of the problem... If we really want to save lives, let's go after the most dangerous drivers on the road.''

At their news conference announcing the zero tolerance policy for divorced parents, MADD highlighted two tragic cases in which mothers killed or injured their children in alcohol-related accidents. Both women had a BAC approximately three times the legal limit. Clearly MADD's call for zero tolerance would have had no impact on these product abusers.

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