Maui News

MADD Hawaiʻi Urges Safety Ahead of Memorial Day Weekend

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Inaugural Hannah Brown Memorial Impaired Driving Awareness Checkpoint. (11.22.19) File Photo: Wendy Osher

Mothers Against Drunk Driving Hawaiʻi urges everyone to designate a non-drinking driver if their Memorial Day weekend plans include alcohol. The organization is also reminding mariners that boating and drinking don’t mix.

“Drunk driving is completely preventable yet claimed 172 lives nationwide from 6 p.m. Friday to 5:59 a.m. Monday during the 2019 Memorial Day weekend,” according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Additionally, alcohol use is the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating crashes, accounting for nearly a quarter of these deaths, according to a 2019 report on recreational boating by the US Coast Guard.

“This Memorial Day weekend, as we honor our nation’s heroes who sacrificed their lives to protect ours, please remember to keep yourselves and those around you safe. Choose a non-drinking driver to get you to and from your destination whether in an automobile or a boat,” said Theresa Paulette, MADD Hawaiʻi Victim Services.


People are just as impaired at a .03 blood alcohol concentration on the water as a .08 BAC on land, according to research by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators, a nonprofit that develops public policy for recreational boating safety. That’s due to environmental factors such as the motion of the water, the weather, the sun, the cold water and other factors that increase impairment.

“Prior to 1980, people drove with a beer in their cup holder. Today, you would not watch someone get in a car with alcohol in their hand and drive away,” said MADD National President Alex Otte, who was severely injured when she was struck by a drunk boater at age 13. “But that happens every single day on our nation’s waterways. This is a culture shift that has yet to happen, but it must, if we’re going to save more lives.”

Memorial Day weekend is an unofficial kickoff to summer, graduations, camping at the beach and other ʻohana celebrations. Travel typically increases and the risk of crashes, injuries and deaths increases on both land and water, according to the organization.


Memorial Day also falls during the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s “Click it or Ticket” campaign, when law enforcement reminds motorists to buckle up. MADD reminds everyone to wear their seatbelts because this remains a great defense against drunk drivers.


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