MADD Florida Announces 2013 Legislative Champions

By: MADD News Release Email
By: MADD News Release Email

News Release: Mothers Against Drunk Driving

Tallahassee, FL —Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) today announced its “2013 Legislative Champions” and recognized Senator Dorothy Hukill and Representative Dennis Baxley for their leadership within the Florida Legislature to stop drunk driving.

“MADD thanks Senator Hukill and Representative Baxley for authoring these lifesaving measures. We appreciate their tireless work and commitment to advancing MADD’s mission in Florida by promoting effective DUI countermeasures like ignition interlocks for all convicted drunk drivers,” said MADD National President Jan Withers.

In 2013, Representative Baxley and Senator Hukill authored HB 479 and SB 796 requiring the use of ignition interlocks for all convicted drunk drivers.

“I am HUMBLED to be recognized by those who have worked so hard to keep Florida families safe. They know this heartache up close and personally,” said Representative Baxley.

“Ignition Interlock Devices are essential in decreasing alcohol-related traffic accidents and fatalities,” said Senator Hukill. “We should be using any tools available that might prevent the senseless tragedies that result from driving under the influence.”

A major portion of MADD’s advocacy efforts in states originates from the Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving® that was launched in 2006. A key component of the Campaign calls for enacting legislation like HB 479 and SB 796. Prior to the Campaign, only one state (New Mexico), required ignition interlocks for all convicted drunk drivers. Today, 20 states require or highly incentivize the use of ignition interlocks for all convicted drunk drivers. Currently in Florida, ignition interlocks are required for offenders who drive drunk with a child passenger in a vehicle, and for all repeat and first-time offenders with a blood alcohol concentration of .15 or greater.

"This legislation is not about punishing first-time offenders. It is about preventing more people from becoming first-time or repeat victims," said Connie Russell, MADD Florida volunteer, whose son, Matthew Beard, was killed by an impaired driver over Christmas of 2006. "If this keeps more people from losing their lives, having their lives altered by injuries, or living the nightmare of terrible loss, then this law serves in the purest sense, what laws are supposed to do, and that is protect our citizens."

An interlock is more effective than license suspension alone, as 50 to 75 percent of convicted drunk drivers continue to drive on a suspended license. Ignition interlocks are effective in reducing repeat drunk driving offenses by 67 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

For more information on ignition interlocks, please visit

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