Mothers Against Drunken Driving has given Missouri a D+, one of
the lowest grades in the nation, for its efforts to combat driving
The organization's highest grade, an A-, went to Illinois,
which has reduced highway deaths by 30 percent in the past 10
years, according to statistics from the National Highway Traffic
In a nationwide survey released Tuesday, MADD downgraded
Missouri because its legal blood-alcohol content limit is .10
instead of .08. It also noted that the state has no law barring
opened alcoholic beverage containers in vehicles.
The national average of the MADD survey was B-. Mississippi got
the lowest grade, D-, followed by D or D+ for Wyoming, North
Dakota, Idaho, Missouri, Vermont and Alabama.
The "report card" used 11 criteria to measure a state's
anti-DWI activities, including enforcement actions, state laws,
accident statistics and public information campaigns.
"We know that Missouri falls short of many of MADD's goals for
reducing DWI crashes," said Dan Needham, director of the Missouri
Division of Highway Safety. "No matter what grade MADD gave us, we
must be honest about what reality is and begin to build positive
change based on that reality. We do know that Missouri could use
some improvement in getting our impaired drivers off the road."
The survey was based on a questionnaire delivered to the states
last April. Illinois scored well for such things as Gov. Jim
Edgar's appointment of a statewide Driving Under the Influence Task
Force and for having higher-than-average blood testing of victims
of fatal accidents.
Another key factor was Illinois' move to abolish "happy hours,"
where two-for-one drink specials were offered.
Missouri was criticized for not having an anti-DWI task force,
for allowing "happy hour" promotions and for allowing hearings to
delay the administrative revocations of drivers licenses in DWI
Accident statistics also played a role in the grading system.
Some Missouri officials questioned the figures.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration, the number of alcohol-related fatalities in
Illinois dropped 30 percent in the past 10 years. During the same
period, they increased 9.2 percent in Missouri, according to the
federal agency's formula.
"From our perspective, when you have a significant decline in
deaths on the highway over a 10-year period, you are doing
something right," said Gary Kenzer, executive director of the
Illinois State MADD office. …