Industry Issues | MADD Cuts Ties to The Century Council

Mother’s Against Drunk Driving (MADD) announced recently it is severing its relationship with The Century Council, the organization founded by distillers in 1991 with a mission of fighting drunk driving and underage consumption. The reason for MADD’s move? MADD contends that The Century Council is deviating from its promise not to oppose legislation calling for ignition interlocks for first-time DWI offenders via some letters circulated in states where such legislation is pending. That promise was part of MADD’s criteria for naming the Arlington, Va.-based organization as a partner.

The Century Council’s official position is to support ignition interlocks for first offenders with blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.15 percent or higher, which is nearly twice the legal limit of 0.08 percent; MADD is pushing for installation of the devices in first offenders with low BAC levels.

MADD requested that The Century Council remove the MADD logo from its web site and refrain from claiming itself to be a partner of MADD in the effort to remove drunk drivers from the nation’s roadways.

In response, The Century Council’s CEO Ralph Blackman expressed disappointment, telling The Wall Street Journal, “Given the fact that we have the same end goal in mind, it's unfortunate that we are having a debate over tactics.”

The Century Council’s membership includes Bacardi USA, Beam Global, Brown-Forman, Constellation Brands, Diageo, Hood River Distillers and Sydney Frank Importing. Partners include the Ad Council, Nickelodeon, National Alcoholic Beverage Control Association and American School Counselor Association.

Editor’s Note: MADD’s cutting ties with the only beverage alcohol industry association with whom it had a productive relationship indicates its further commitment to achieve its goal of ignition interlocks mandated for all DWI offenders, regardless of BAC level and, eventually, universal ignition interlock. In doing so, MADD decidedly paints the entire beverage alcohol industry in a negative light, portraying it as being in favor of drunk driving. Such is not the case. The beverage alcohol industry in general supports ignition interlock for high BAC repeat offenders and contends that requiring the system be used as punishment for first-time offenders with low BAC levels ignores that most DWI injuries and fatalities are caused by repeat drunk drivers with BAC levels well above the legal limit.

For more information on the industry’s position on the effective and appropriate implementation of ignition interlock, visit Not familiar with ignition interlock? Check out my blog “Your House is on Fire” at


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