Preventing Substance Impaired Driving and Child Endangerment

Substance Impaired Driving and Child Endangerment PREVENTING

Mothers Against Drunk Driving 24-Hour Victim Help Line 877.MADD.HELP

Kids should never have to be put into danger. My son Gavin was only 10 years old when he was killed in a crash while riding with his Dad. My kids were on a forced custody visit with their father who had previous OWIs. He hadn’t been on the road for more than two minutes when he caused the crash. Gavin did not have a choice that day because the person he had to trust took that away from him. Gavin paid the ultimate price for someone else’s poor choices. You have to be your child’s voice. Drunk driving is a choice that people make. It’s something that shouldn’t happen; it can be prevented. My hope is that by sharing Gavin’s story, some other child will stay safe. Hold on to those who are most precious to you, because life can change in the blink of an eye.

Julie doesn’t consider herself a victim, but a survivor. She speaks to groups to advocate for change to keep children safe.


Someone You Know Drives While Substance Impaired Identifying Addiction Understanding Addiction Facing Addiction and Managing Addicts Preventing Substance Impaired Driving Myths and Facts about Driving While Substance Impaired The Difference Between Impairment and Intoxication Alcohol Drugs Knowing Consequences May Help You Be More Persuasive Taking Action Child Endangerment Growing Concern for a Widespread Problem Child Endangerment Laws and Statutes What Can Be Done to Help Protect Children? Helpful Strategies for Concerned


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Parents, Grandparents, and Family Members Child Safety Measures Final Thoughts

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If you are reading this brochure, you may be in a very difficult and frightening position of knowing someone who drinks and/or uses drugs and drives. There are no easy answers, and you may have some strong feelings about the issue. It could be your neighbor, an acquaintance, or even a loved one. You might care about the person, but hate and fear their behavior. You may feel angry about irresponsible decisions that they have made. You may even be spending time and energy protecting your friend or loved one from the consequences of their own decisions. You may live in fear that one day this person might be injured or killed in a substance impaired driving crash, or injure or kill someone else. Substance impaired driving is defined as driving while impaired by alcohol and/ or drugs. It is illegal Someone You Know Drives While Substance Impaired

Substance impaired driving is one of the most frequently committed violent crimes in the United States.

in every state in the U.S. to drive at a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of .08 or greater. It’s also possible to be impaired with a

combination of alcohol and drugs or drugs by themselves. Illicit drugs, as well as some prescription drugs, can cause impairment making it dangerous to drive while taking such drugs. Substance impaired driving is one of the most frequently committed violent crimes in the U.S. Over 10,000 people a year are killed and hundreds of thousands injured

each year as a result of substance impaired driving. Due to the size of this problem, countless people know what it is like to be concerned about someone who drives while substance impaired. We hope this information will provide you with some options to help the substance impaired driver stop the behavior you are witnessing. Keep in mind that a strategy that works in one situation may not work in another. Sometimes it is only the court system or the person themselves who can ultimately make a change. psychologically addicted to alcohol and/ or drugs. Many people who drive while substance impaired do so as a part of an addiction to alcohol and/or drugs. If you think that someone you know might have an alcohol or drug problem, it is important that you encourage the person to see a doctor or other health care provider right away. They can help determine if a problem exists and help plan the best course of action. Although some people are able to recover from addiction, most will need help in doing so. Here are some common things to look for when trying to identify if someone may have an addition to alcohol or drugs: • They may stop doing the things that they used to enjoy, like hobbies, hanging out with friends or family members, or taking care of themselves physically and mentally. • They may have unexplained disappearances of a few hours or days, as they may be attempting to hide their drug or alcohol use. Identifying Addiction An addict is physically and/or


• They may start having difficulty with money, paying bills late or stealing from family members or friends. • They may have strong mood swings, and can be angry and depressed (usually when going through withdrawal from alcohol or drugs) which can change to very happy and excited when they have had access to drugs or alcohol. Understanding Addiction If you believe your friend or loved one

may be an addict, it is important that you begin to understand how this can affect them. If untreated, they will rely more and more on alcohol and/or drugs to function and may

How does addiction affect people?

ultimately die as a result of their addiction. • Addicts tend to blame other people and situations for their addiction. The fact is, they drink or use drugs because they are addicted. • Addicts cannot stop their addiction without assistance. It is very important that you seek assistance from a trained professional who helps people with addictions. • Men, women, and children of all ages and races can become addicts. • Addiction becomes worse without intervention and can ultimately be fatal.

Facing Addiction and Managing Addicts

Facing addiction can be as tough for family and friends as it is for the addict. Here are some tips to help you handle this tough situation: • Admit the truth. Acknowledge that the person has a problem and may be an addict. • Learn about addiction. The more you understand about addiction, the better you will be able to cope with the addict, your family, and yourself. • Don’t blame yourself. Don’t allow the

addict or anyone else to blame you for their addiction. You neither caused it nor can cure it. • Continue with your own life. Don’t allow

Don’t blame yourself.

someone’s addiction to control your life. Pursue life activities that are meaningful to you and your family. • Seek assistance. Encourage the person to enter a treatment program. Regardless of the response, consider seeking out a program to help yourself. You will meet others who live with addicts and learn ways to cope with them. A counselor or programs like Al-Anon or Nar-Anon , which are programs for families of alcohol or drug addicts, may be able to help you know how to address the problem.


• Make a plan. If you live with a person who refuses to change, consider asking him or her to leave. Or, you may need to leave, yourself. Loving someone with an addiction does not require you to witness their destructive behaviors. You must be the one strong enough to take action to change the situation. Consider making a plan with the help of your family and other trusted advisors (such as a professional interventionist) and be prepared to follow through with the plan. • Never ride with a person who is driving while substance impaired. This protects your safety and gives a clear message that you will not tolerate or condone such behavior. It takes courage to say, “I think my friend or family member is an addict.” Follow up on that courageous admission by going online and searching for services in your area to treat addiction, or help find assistance for yourself. You can contact the Alcohol and Drug Treatment Locator from Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration at 1-800-662-4357 or online at to find a local rehab facility. Never ride with a person who is driving while substance impaired.

Preventing Substance Impaired Driving

In addition to those with diagnosable addiction problems, there are those who merely do not consider the dangers of

driving while substance impaired. Even if your friend or loved one does not meet the official criteria established for identifying addiction, they may continue to behave in a dangerous and harmful way by driving while substance impaired. There are a number of people who underestimate the impact of alcohol and/ or drugs on their physical and mental capabilities. Despite the fact that some people feel more outgoing when they’ve consumed alcohol or drugs, often it will affect the central nervous system, which impairs vision, coordination, judgment, and reaction time. Because judgment is affected, the person consuming alcohol and/or drugs usually believes they are okay to drive, but they may not make the safest decision in that state of impairment. Different types of drugs affect the body differently. Something as benign

as ibuprophen, when taken in high doses can actually kill you. Some drugs bring your body up and make you excited or jittery. Other drugs, such as alcohol are actually depressants to your system.

Different types of drugs affect the body differently.


Myths and Facts About Driving While Substance Impaired There are numerous misconceptions and myths about alcohol and drugs that may lead someone to believe that it is acceptable to drive while substance impaired. Myth 1: Many people believe that after drinking or taking drugs they will be capable of making a decision regarding whether or not they are, or someone else is, okay to drive. Fact: You can’t tell is someone is safe to drive just by looking at them. Not everyone exhibits obvious signs of impairment after consuming alcohol or drugs, such as slurring their words or having trouble walking. Some people who are substance impaired impaired differs according to how fast you drink, your weight, your gender, and how much food you have in your stomach. It’s also possible to drink a smaller amount of alcohol but because it has been combined with an additional drug the combination creates a larger amount of impairment. Because of these variables, the safest choice is to not drive after you’ve been drinking or taking drugs that may impair your driving. Myth 2: Beer and wine are less intoxicating than hard liquor. Fact: A 12-ounce can or bottle of beer, a 5-ounce serving of wine, and a 1.5-ounce shot of liquor all have about the same amount of alcohol. A six-pack of beer has about the same alcohol content as six average mixed You can’t tell if someone is able to drive just by looking at them. don’t have visible symptoms. When alcohol is involved, the amount of alcohol required to become

drinks. However, you can’t tell how much alcohol someone has had by just counting their “drinks,” or number of glasses, they consumed. Some mixed drinks contain more than one shot of alcohol. Some people believe that one kind of alcohol affects them more or less than another; but a standard serving of alcohol has the same power to affect the drinker regardless of the type. Myth 3: Coffee, cold showers, exercise, or other home remedies can make someone sober. Fact: Nothing can speed up the body’s rate of processing alcohol or drugs except time. While a number of factors affect how quickly someone becomes impaired (how much they weigh, how much food is in their stomach, their gender, etc.), the body needs about one hour to process each serving of liquor. A person who has had five drinks in two hours has burned off only about two of the drinks and will need at least three more hours of non-drinking time to become completely sober. In addition, some drugs leave the system very quickly, while others will last for hours. If someone isn’t familiar with how a drug works, they may not know how long the effects will last. Myth 4: As long as the drug is one that’s been prescribed, it’s legal to drive while taking it. Fact: Some drugs, whether prescribed or illicit, aren’t safe to take while operating a motor vehicle. It’s important that people

who are prescribed drugs find out from their doctor whether or not it’s safe to drive after taking their prescription, often this information is written on the prescription

Some prescription and illicit drugs can cause driving impairment.


bottle. It’s also important to note that if you take a prescribed drug in a larger dose than prescribed or with alcohol, it may cause serious impairment. The Difference Between Impairment and Intoxication At what point does a person become impaired? Impairment is the point where one’s intake of alcohol or drugs affects their ability to perform appropriately. Alcohol With alcohol, the impairment process begins with the very first drink. At low BAC levels, some people may not appear to be impaired, but their judgment, coordination, and reaction time have been affected. Since it takes time for alcohol to leave the stomach and enter the blood stream, a person may continue to become more impaired for a period of time following their last drink. At what point is someone considered legally intoxicated? Intoxication is a legal term that establishes a certain level of alcohol in the blood as the point of impairment severe enough that criminal sanctions are enforced for driving. Most people are impaired before they become legally intoxicated. In the U.S., the illegal limit for alcohol intoxication is .08 BAC. It has been shown that all people are intoxicated at a .08. For those under the age of 21, it is illegal to drink and illegal to drive

with any measurable amount of alcohol in the bloodstream. Regardless of whether or not someone drinking alcohol believes he

The safest rule is to never drive after drinking or taking drugs.

or she can drive, the law in all 50 states says that a person is intoxicated and must not operate a motor vehicle if the BAC reaches .08. The safest rule to follow is to not drink and drive and never ride with anyone who has been drinking. Drugs Impairment varies from drug to drug. An over-the-counter drug like ibuprophen may not provide any form of impairment if taken at a normal dose. However an illicit drug, like heroin, would cause significant impairment influence of prescription and illegal drugs have been implemented in some states and set a standard level of intoxication for each drug. Often times, a case involving drug impaired driving will rely on a police officer administering special tests to gauge impairment. There are even police officers specially trained as Drug Recognition Experts that are called to the scene when drug impairment is suspected. Ultimately, the decision to drive while substance impaired rests with each individual. While you have more control over making safe choices for yourself, you cannot control other people. You can point out that there are dangerous and deadly consequences of driving while substance impaired and often that may motivate a person to change his or her behavior. However, you should not feel guilty if, in spite of everything you do, the person you are concerned about continues to drive while substance impaired. You must acknowledge that you cannot control him or her, and focus on protecting others on the roads and highways. right away and can last for hours. Laws regarding driving under the


Knowing Consequences May Help You Be More Persuasive There are real and serious consequences for driving while substance impaired. Being aware of these consequences may be helpful in your conversations with the person you are concerned about. Again, you may not be able to convince them to change their behavior, but

Be aware of the consequences.

knowing some of the challenges they may face, if caught, might trigger a positive step towards them making a change.

Driving while intoxicated is a crime in every jurisdiction in the United States. State legislatures continue to address the issue by toughening existing laws and passing new ones. Some states have mandatory jail terms for first-time offenders convicted of drunk driving. Many make offenders pay a large fine plus standard court costs and fees. In addition, many states suspend the offender’s driver’s license for a period of time, when the driver is pulled over, if their breath test shows a BAC at or above .08 or for refusing a test. Even those states that do not revoke a license have the option to do it at the time of conviction. Although individuals may choose to continue driving without a driver’s license or insurance, they are likely to be charged with the additional offenses if they are stopped by law enforcement. In some states, people convicted of a DUI/DWI are mandated to have an ignition interlock device installed on their vehicles.

In most states, after a certain number of offenses, a person can be declared a habitual offender. That, too, carries additional criminal penalties up to life in prison. Many states have also amended their criminal substance impaired driving statutes to enhance the penalty if a child was in the vehicle at the time of the offense. To find out more information about the laws in your state search “legal code” online for your state. Besides the criminal consequences of substance impaired driving, there is also the possibility of civil lawsuits in cases where property damage, injury, or death resulted from a substance impaired driving crash. Win or lose, attorney fees for civil suits can be enormous. If a judgment is found against the offender, transferring assets does not protect them. Since 1984, declaring bankruptcy does not relieve the offender from financial obligations. Even if the person does not currently have assets or income, civil judgments can be charged to future assets, endangering future earnings or inheritances. Furthermore, if you are the spouse or legal guardian of the person being sued, or if you provided the car or alcohol involved in the drinking and driving offense, your assets may also be at risk. In addition to criminal and civil penalties, some convicted substance impaired driving offenders lose their jobs due to the policies and procedures in their work place. Those who are convicted and who are separated or divorced may also find visitation rights with their children curtailed if this information becomes known to the divorce court. Insurance rates for those who have a DUI/ DWI conviction increase or their policies are


canceled outright, requiring the purchase of new insurance at even higher rates. Any person insured under the same policy as the offender may also have difficulty obtaining new insurance. This is true even if you are separated from the offender. Along with legal and financial consequences, there are social and emotional consequences to substance impaired driving. When a crash occurs, people are often killed or injured. Furthermore, families, friends, and even entire communities are affected by these crashes. Often those who caused the crash are left with feelings of grief, regret, and exclusion. The crash may strain or even sever relationships with those they are close to. Taking Action By being aware of alternatives and options, you may be able to have an impact on the problem. Not only are there options you can recommend, there are courses of action you can take if you are concerned about the

safety of your friend or loved one. Some of the recommendations may seem extreme, however, remember you are trying to keep someone you care about safe and alive.

You can make a difference.

Designate a Driver One simple and effective alternative to substance impaired driving is to develop a plan before leaving home. Selecting a non- drinking designated driver, a person who agrees not to drink alcohol or use other drugs, will help everyone get home safely. The designated driver is selected before

drinking begins, stays sober, and drives adults who have been drinking home. The designated driver may also pick everyone up so no one

Plan ahead, know how you are getting home safely.

is tempted to drive home after drinking

or taking drugs. It also prevents leaving an unattended car overnight, placing the car owner at risk for a ticket, tow, or vandalism. Plan on Public Transportation If your group does not have a designated driver, you should plan to use public transportation (buses, subways, and trains), if available, taxis, or designated driver service. Most bars and restaurants are more than happy to call a cab for their patrons. Walking home is infinitely more preferable than substance impaired driving. However, all cities have public intoxication statutes that may be enforced if a person appears to be intoxicated in public, and even walking home impaired can be dangerous. Planning for a non-drinking driver is the safest and easiest way to get home. Be Smart at Home When serving alcohol in your home, make a plan for getting guests home safely, before the party starts, and when they are sober and clear-headed. This is a way to resolve issues before anything dangerous happens. If they become belligerent, you can consider hiding the keys, getting someone else to help, or calling the police. Just remember your own safety. Do not do anything that would put you in harm’s way.


Know Who You Can Call Contact Local Law Enforcement

If the person of concern continues to drive while substance impaired in spite of your efforts, call the police immediately after he or she leaves and give a description of the car, the driver, and the direction of travel. This can be done anonymously. Be aware that law enforcement agencies vary widely in their interest and ability to respond to such calls, but many law enforcement agencies will make an effort to locate the vehicle. If they do spot it, they will be able to

Call law enforcement

pull the car over only if they have probable cause to do so. This means the police officer must observe the vehicle being

to report a substance impaired driver.

driven in such a way that the officer believes the driver may be intoxicated. In most states, your phone call alone will not be enough for the officer to justify stopping the car. Many states have a toll-free hotline for reporting suspected drunk drivers. Your State Highway Patrol or State Police can tell you if such a number is available in your state. Contact the Department of Motor Vehicles or Department of Public Safety If you have reason to believe that a person has provided false information to obtain a fraudulent driver’s license, call either the Department of Motor Vehicles or the Department of Public Safety in your state and report this information. Lying or failing to provide accurate information in order to obtain a license is a criminal offense punishable by license revocation and/or jail.

You may make the call anonymously, but you may need to provide the driver’s name, date of birth, and license plate number. All driver’s licenses issued are listed in the National Driver Register, so driving privileges revoked in one state can be traced to the offender, even if they attempt to obtain a license in another state. Contact the Prosecuting Attorney If the person has already been charged with a substance impaired driving crime and was released on bond or bail, call the prosecuting attorney’s office and inform them about the ongoing problem. Ask for the prosecutor who has been assigned to the case and inform him or her that the person has a previous substance impaired driving record or is again driving while substance impaired. The prosecuting attorney may be able to recommend an appropriate course of action. Contact the Defense Attorney The person’s defense attorney should have advised him or her to stay out of further trouble with the law. You may want to inform the defense attorney that his or her client continues to drive while substance impaired. Contact the Probation and Parole Authorities A person who has been convicted of a crime can be put on probation for a period of time instead of serving time in jail or prison. People on probation are required to do certain things as elements of their sentences. They may have to report to a probation officer at certain times, be required to go to special classes, and refrain from getting into further trouble with the law. The elements


of probation are largely determined by the judge who hears the case. Parole is similar, except that parolees have spent time in jail or prison prior to release. If released before completion of the sentence, they spend the remainder of their sentence on parole. A person who violates one or more of the required elements of probation or parole runs the risk of having their probation or parole revoked and going to jail or prison to serve the remainder of their sentence. If the person is on probation or parole, even for a different offense, and continues to drive while substance impaired, contact their

probation or parole officer to report this illegal activity. This is especially important if the person has been

Report illegal activity.

recently ticketed or arrested for a related offense.

Reporting someone you care about to the authorities can be a very painful step. In the long run, however, it may be more loving than taking no action, and implying by your silence that you support the substance impaired driving. Install an Ignition Interlock Device on Your Vehicle If the person who drives while substance impaired is driving your vehicle, consider voluntarily having an ignition interlock device installed on your car. An ignition interlock device prevents people from driving drunk by not allowing the person to start the vehicle if they are at or above the level set by state law, usually a .02 or a .04 BAC. If your name

is on the title to the vehicle, you should be able to have the device installed by taking your vehicle to an ignition interlock company. Many modern ignition interlock devices will also have further prevention capabilities to prevent someone else who isn’t impaired from blowing into the device to start the vehicle. To find a company to assist you with this process, you can search online “ignition interlock” for your city and state. Often several companies will be available to choose from.

Child Endangerment

Protecting children is a value most Americans cherish. Yet, despite the fact that substance impaired driving is a violent crime, driving while substance impaired with children in the vehicle is not a commonly acknowledged form of child endangerment or child abuse. Minor children often have no choice as to whether or not they ride with an impaired driver. Caregivers that drive while substance

impaired with children in the vehicle are child abusers in their own right and account for the majority of substance impaired

Substance impaired driving with children in the car is a form of child abuse.

driving fatalities among children.


Growing Concern for a Widespread Problem

MADD continues to receive an increasing number of alarming calls from concerned individuals regarding children riding with substance impaired drivers. Many of these calls indicate that reports filed with state agencies are slipping through the cracks, putting children at greater risk of victimization. There does not seem to be relief for the problem because of the lack of public awareness of child endangerment as it relates to Driving Under the Influence or Driving While Intoxicated (DUI/DWI). MADD has identified common problems surrounding this type of child endangerment. The most common problems are: • Cases are not properly charged, resulting in a lack of prosecution; • Properly charged cases are often pled down or dismissed; • Reports made to child protective agencies that don’t result in findings; • A general lack of awareness of the breadth and scope of the issue; • Divorced parents who are confronted with this issue face legal challenges and the financial risk of subjecting themselves to civil contempt actions by refusing visitation privileges;

• Parents lacking the financial resources to seek relief in the civil court system. Child Endangerment Laws and Statutes Child endangerment is a term used to address a group of laws that create a separate offense or enhance an existing penalty for an offender who endangers a minor. Child endangerment is any action that might place a minor in jeopardy of physical, moral, or mental well-being. Child endangerment statutes fall into the following categories: • Enhanced penalties: Refers to penalties that are added to the penalties for a DUI/DWI law violation. • Separate offenses: Refers to an offense for DUI/DWI with a minor in the vehicle that is separate from the DUI/DWI laws. • Aggravating circumstances: Refers to laws that allow the fact that a child was in the vehicle to be used by the judge/ jury in sentencing as an aggravating factor, but not mandating a specific enhanced penalty. Within each state, it is the legislature that decides how child endangerment statutes are applied. States with child endangerment laws vary widely in provisions and enforcement. Additionally, the general public seems to lack awareness that such statutes exist. For individuals, the situation is even more complicated because families with child endangerment issues are often already coping with the legal ramifications of separation, divorce, and visitation/custody issues. After a court has accepted custody arrangements, concerned parents and


adults have very few options for protecting a child from a parent who drives substance impaired. Even worse, if a parent attempts to prevent the child from riding with their substance impaired parent, breach of the custody agreement could be enforced leading to further victimization. There are difficulties and inconsistencies in enforcing the child endangerment statutes. Many of the laws are too complex, and it is difficult to interpret the existing DUI/ DWI child endangerment laws. As a result, these laws are not being uniformly enforced. In addition to criminal statutes, there is difficulty enforcing civil remedies absent a restraining order or request of participation from child protective services. Generally, there appears to be a lack of education on all aspects of the laws and the problem of child endangerment. There is a critical need for judicial education programs addressing all of the issues surrounding child endangerment. Judges need to ask convicted DUI/DWI offenders at sentencing if they have children and if they have ever driven substance impaired with their children

in their vehicle. Civilly, violation of terms of a divorce decree as it relates to substance impaired driving with minor children in the car should be clearly tied to a change in custody or visitation.

Stopping child endangerment can be a long, difficult process.

What Can Be Done to Help Protect Children? A separation agreement or divorce decree may include mandatory provisions that: • Prohibit drunk driving, or driving under the influence of other drugs, by either parent when they are transporting their minor children. • Prohibit friends of the parent from driving the child after using alcohol and/ or other drugs. • Prohibit the child from blowing into an ignition interlock device, if the parent has the device on his/her vehicle. • Prohibit the parent from exercising their visitation privileges if there is evidence of substance impairment when the child is picked up or delivered. Parents who believe that the child’s other parent may show up substance impaired often choose a local police station as the location for dropping off and picking up the children. General consequences for Seek the courts

assistance in keeping the child safe.

failing to abide by the agreement should be stipulated in writing. Motion to Modify

The issue is more complex in cases of divorce. Often, one parent is trying to protect the child from the substance impaired driving behavior of the other parent. Some parents have successfully modified custodial and visitation agreements due to an ex-spouse’s history of substance impaired driving; others have found the courts reluctant to amend


previously negotiated arrangements. There are sometimes financial complications that occur by going back to court. Depending on state law, child endangerment may specifically impact custody and visitation rights. It is important to consult with a family attorney to explore options when requesting a motion to modify. If you are a divorced parent investigating a motion to modify, you need an attorney to help you. The attorney who handled your divorce would be a logical first choice. If that’s not possible, look for a family law attorney online or ask for a referral from your local Bar Association. Potential modifications include: • Parents are not to use alcohol or other drugs 24 hours before or during visitation; and/or • Ordering an alcohol/drug assessment and treatment, as indicated by the assessment; • Limitations on visitations, including requiring supervised visitation; • Requiring a third party, the other parent, • Ordering an ignition interlock device placed on one parent’s or both parents’ vehicles; sometimes judges will order it on both vehicles to be fair. Helpful Strategies for Concerned Parents, Grandparents, and Family Members The following strategies may be helpful to you as you seek court intervention to protect your child or children from a caregiver who has a history of substance a trusted family member or friend, to transport the child or children for the purpose of visitation;

impaired driving violations. Keep in mind that courts want to see a pattern of behavior; therefore, documentation and accurate record keeping is important.

Document situations that happen.

Keep your focus. Your goal is to protect your child, not to prevent your child from having a relationship with the other parent. Whether or not it’s fair, judges may assume that efforts to modify custody or visitation are motivated by anger or revenge. Be factual. Your word will probably not be enough. Factual evidence includes driving records, criminal history, and the observations of unbiased witnesses. Some courts will accept the testimony of family members and friends, older children willing to talk about their concerns, or private investigators may be interviewed. Calmly suggest alternative transportation. Recommend the driver postpone travel or offer to drive the child, if appropriate. Avoid a heated altercation that may put the child in further danger. Call 911 if the driver shows up impaired and wants to drive the child. Be prepared to provide as much information as possible (such as name of the impaired driver, vehicle description and/or license plate, and destination). Give the responding officer your name and contact information. Provide a summary. Document all contacts with the police with a follow-up written summary. Request a copy of your complaint from the law enforcement agency.


Call Child Protective Services. Some agencies will conduct an investigation if they believe that a child’s life is in danger. Most courts will seriously consider the findings of Child Protective Services. Keep in mind that both parents and the children will probably be evaluated and

Both parents may be evaluated

evaluations include home visits. If you do contact Child Protective Services, obtain a copy of the written complaint for your records.

when Child Protective Services gets involved.

Maintain a log. Document each time your child tells you the other parent consumed alcohol or other drugs while in the role of custodial parent. Child Safety Measures It is clear that innocent children who count on parents and caregivers to protect them from danger are being placed at risk when a substance impaired driver has made the decision to drive impaired with a child passenger. Children should be taught to never get into a vehicle if they are afraid for their

safety. Talk about ways to manage uncomfortable situations. Teach your children techniques for keeping

Teach your children the safest ways to ride in a car.

themselves safe by instructing them to: • Sit in the back seat; • Buckle-up tight and use their child safety seat, if age appropriate;

• Put all of their belongings on the floor; • Do not bother the driver and stay quiet; • Tell a trusted grown-up immediately about the unsafe ride; • Call a parent or other loved one from a cell phone, if possible.

Final Thoughts

Children are our greatest resource and our future. MADD is taking action to help protect the children who are needlessly put in danger every day in this country. It is irresponsible to endanger an innocent child and should not be tolerated by a society that puts children first. You may be concerned for the safety of your family, friends, or community and be inspired to take action to prevent substance impaired driving crashes. Thousands of men, women and teenagers have joined MADD to make a difference in their communities. Whether donating directly to MADD, volunteering to educate others about the dangers of substance impaired driving, or working to prevent substance impaired driving crashes by strengthening laws in your state, you can make an impact. To talk with someone, find resources for your own situation, or get involved, you can call the MADD Victim Services Help Line at 1-877-MADD-HELP or 1-877-623-3435 to be connected to your local MADD office.



24-Hour Victim Help Line 877.MADD.HELP

MADD does not discriminate against individuals or groups, either in employment or in the delivery of services or benefits, on the basis of race, sex, color, religion, national origin, age, income, marital status, sexual orientation, medical condition, disability or veteran status. If you believe your civil rights have been violated please reach out to the U. S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office of Civil Rights ( or US Department of Justice, 950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Civil Rights Division, Washington, DC 20530, or phone (202) 514-4609 Telephone Device for the Deaf (TTY) (202) 514-0716).

©2018 Mothers Against Drunk Driving Rev. 3/23

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