R.I.D. Tampa Bay

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What's so special about RID?

RID is a grass roots, volunteer organization. Because our six-room head-quarters are donated and most of our administrative labor is volunteer, we spend less than fifteen percent of our income on administration and fund raising. Eighty-five percent goes into program.

RID volunteers work to deter impaired driving, to help its victims seek justice, restitution, and peace of mind when facing the maze of the criminal justice system, to close loopholes in the laws, and to educate the public about the scope and depth of impaired driving tragedies and what to do about it.

Although we share these goals with other groups, RID is very different from them in several important ways. Of the national anti-impaired driving citizen-action groups, besides being the oldest (founded in 1978), it is the only one that has never accepted money from the alcohol industry. No special interests sit on our board. With low overhead and lean staff, we can afford to act as an independent watchdog on the courts, the government, the alcohol industry and its affiliates, without being concerned that a controversial position may damage fund raising potential.

We are not prohibitionists, but by 1983 we realized that alcohol abuse by youth, and problem drinkers was a major cause of traffic fatalities and that we had to broaden our attack, to push for a SNAP, a Sane National Alcohol Policy that would discourage rather than encourage youthful beer drinking.

The brewers, their distributors and advertisers and the broadcasters all think RID IS SPECIAL, specially troublesome. The May 1991 issue of the industry publication Market Watch carried a 14-page article sounding the call for the alcohol industry to prepare for battle against the growing “neo-prohibitionist” (health) movement. Editor Marvin Shanken wrote, “The handwriting is on the wall. It’s time to confront the threat before you.” He goes on to warn that the “movement’s biggest asset is its extensive network of grass-roots groups that run the gamut from Remove Intoxicated Drivers to CSPI which count thousands of members willing to devote time and contribute money.” We feel honored.

The article designated RID and RID’s Founder, Doris Aiken, as the people to worry about, the “anti-alcohol” element trying to apply the control “theory” that price, availability, and advertising affect consumption and abuse. Yes, we are making an impression. RID has come a long way since taking a lonely stand in 1983. The TV networks still try to boycott us; but we now enjoy good company, including both our past and present Surgeon Generals; and we continue to grow by word-of-mouth, now active in forty states.

We believe local chapters are SPECIAL. By not depending heavily on fund raising, we can enable RID chapters to be independent. To be effective, we believe local chapters must be free to take initiatives. While headquarters provides information and advice, RID chapters are autonomous, free to set their own priorities, design their own programs to fit local conditions.

They can compare and publish the voting records of legislators, the sentencing patterns of judges, if needed. They can respond to the media without having to check first with headquarters. If they present a position that is different from RID’s national position, they must make it clear that it is their own. As long as a chapter shares our general goals, stands ready to assist victims, does not create a scandal or bring discredit to RID or to the citizen-action movement, they remain a chapter in good standing, “part of the RID network.”

Beginning in 1980, RID activists have played a key role enabling the passage of reforms of the impaired driving laws in many states. Our members are particularly proud of a long lists of special “firsts,” including:

  • 1980 First Victims Impact Panel for defendants, Oswego County, NJ.
  • 1980 Enabled first "no plea-bargaining-out-of-alcohol" law (New York).
  • 1981 Enabled first self-funded STOP-DWI law (New York, returning the fines of impaired drivers to the counties for use in deterring DWI).
  • 1982 First DWI victim's impact statement in court, Michelle Martin case, Albany, NY. Statements now supported by law in 28 states.
  • 1983 First mandatory seat belt law (New York).
  • 1984 First (and still the only) national anti-impaired driving organization to call for a comprehensive SNAP (Sane National Alcohol Policy), to curb aggressive promotions aimed at youth.
  • 1990 First to discover and publicize unpaid drunk driving fines on a massive scale (RID - TN). Enabled law to delay return of license until all fines are paid.
The traffic fatality rate for our nation is now at an all time low. But we know that much more must be done to reduce traffic slaughter, and that we can do a lot better especially if we de-alcoholize the environment, and gain some control over the way alcohol is promoted in this country. RID can be proud of the leadership it has provided, with the results of our efforts thus far to help victims and to remove intoxicated drivers from the road. We invite more citizens to join the “movement”; it's a job for everyone.

Doris Aiken
RID National President

 

Newsflash

Nationwide, an estimated 30.5 million people aged 12 or older drove under the influence of alcohol at least once in the past year according to the report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).