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Randy Appleton
| Shapiro, Appleton & Washburn

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) recently ranked the 50 state’s DWI or DUI laws in an annual survey. It concluded that Mississippi has the toughest overall drunk driving laws, and Maryland and Nebraska also come out on top. 

The report judges the adequacy of each state’s efforts to end drunk driving. The survey comes a decade after MADD launched a campaign to push for laws that mandated the use of ignition interlocks for anyone convicted of DWI, no matter if it was the person’s first offense.

MADD timed the release of the report for the Christmas and New Year holidays. That is when the number of drunk driving deaths climbs each year. According to the NHTSA, the daily death toll from drunk driving from Christmas to New Year’s typically rises nationally from 36 to 45 fatalities each day around Christmas, and up to 54 per day around New Years.

MADD ranked the states with a five star system that was based on whether the states mandated that jurisdictions mandate all offenders to have an ignition interlock device on their car. Other critieria include using high profile police enforcement efforts against DUI drivers, such as sobriety checkpoints and drunk driving patrols.


Other aspects of the survey that were included were whether the state suspends the driver license right away after a DUI arrest; punishing drivers who will not take a breath test; and passing laws that impose more penalties for a drunk driver having a child in the car.

In the Washington DC area, Maryland had the top score with 4.5 stars. DC got only 3 stars, and Virginia received 3.5 stars.

Our View

Our drunk driving attorneys in the Commonwealth of Virginia are pleased to see that MADD conducted this survey of DUI laws in every state. We are glad that Maryland came out on top, but clearly Virginia and DC have work to do.

We have represented the victims and families of the dead in many drunk driving lawsuits. Drunk driving is an absolute menace on our roads and is completely inexcusable. We sue the drunk driver for as much as we can so that the injured and/or grieving family gets money to help them to recover.

We were proud that one of our Virginia drunk driving attorneys, Ed Booth, recently won a $3.5 million drunk driving verdict for a Newport News, Virginia drunk driving victim. This woman survived, but her body was shattered by the drunk driving crash, and she will never fully recover. Those funds will help the woman to recover as much as her body possibly can, and to replace her lost income, as she can no longer work as a school teacher.

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