Restaurant Group Slams MADD

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    MADD disputes criticism that it is not committed to its public service programs.

    Mothers Against Drunk Driving is disputing criticism from a restaurant industry group about the nonprofit's commitment to public service.

    The American Beverage Institute says MADD's public service programs have declined as its anti-alcohol campaign grew, citing a poor rating in the American Institute of Philanthropy’s August report.

    MADD was downgraded to a "D" rating in the American Institute of Philanthropy’s August report.

    ABI Managing Director Sarah Longwell said that today's MADD is "a very different group" from the one that educated people on the dangers of drunken driving in the 1980s.

    MADD Under Fire from ABI

    [DFW] MADD Under Fire from ABI

    "They have become the modern-day temperance movement," she said. "These are people who believe that you shouldn't be allowed to have anything to drink prior to driving."

    The American Beverage Institute is an association of restaurants committed to responsible serving of adult beverages, according to the group.

    But Mary Kardell, MADD's North Texas director, said the group is not opposed to the consumption of alcohol.

    "We are strictly focused on prevention of death and injury as it relates to drunk driving," she said.

    MADD officials said their fundraising efforts have been hampered by the slow economy. Kardell said 75 percent of MADD's donations went to programs last year.

    "I'm very excited about the programs that we have, and I know that we're saving lives," she said. "We're a great nonprofit to volunteer for, and we welcome everyone to join us."

    Kardell said MADD provided about 1,300 North Texas families with victim counseling and education programs in 2009.

    But the ABI said MADD has spent as little as 57 percent on programs in some years. The group also said salaries for MADD officers and directors have rising while its revenue declined.

    Longwell said MADD's support for interlock devices for automobiles amounts to "back-door prohibition." But Kardell said MADD is only out to stop impaired drivers with the devices.

    MADD said it is also urging Texas lawmakers to approve sobriety checkpoints similar to those used by police in other states to get drunken drivers off the road.