Candace Lynne Lightner is the founder of Mothers Against Drunk Driving or MADD. Lightner was born in Pasadena, California, where she graduated from high school. She attended College in American River College in Sacramento and later on married Steve Lightner and had three children.
When her daughter Serena was just 18 months old, Lightner’s car got involved in a car accident — the rear of her car was hit from the rear by a drunken driver. The incident caused slight injury to her daughter Serena. After six years, her son Travis was run over by unlicensed driver causing serious injuries such as broken bones. The poor boy also suffered from permanent brain damage and was in coma for few days.On May 3, 1980, her 13-year-old daughter, Cari Lightner, is walking along their residential neighborhood in Fair Oaks, California, when a car swerves out of control and killed the young girl. Cari’s body had been thrown 125 feet. It was badly damaged that her organs could not be donated. When the driver, Clarence Busch, was arrested, they found that he had five record arrests for intoxication and had in fact been
Lightner then petitioned to California’s governor, Jerry Brown, to set up a state task force to investigate drunk driving. In 1981, California passed a law imposing minimum fines of $375 for drunk drivers and mandatory imprisonment of up to four years for repeat offenders.
In 1982, Lightner’s efforts inspired President Reagan to appoint a Blue Ribbon Commission on Drunk and Drug Driving. Over 400 drunk driving laws was then enacted across the country.
On the same year, She serve on the National Commission on Drunk Driving, in which she recommended raising the minimum drinking age to 21 and revoking the licenses of those arrested for drunk driving.arrested on another hit-and-run drunk-driving charge two days earlier. Although there is no law against drunk driving during those times so he was unlikely to spend significant time behind bars.
The tragic death of her daughter Cari forced Candy Lightner to start an organization against drunk drivers.
“I was very mad, I was very bitter, there were elements of revenge,” she said. “I felt that if I did nothing, nothing would happen,” Lightner said.
On May 7 1980, days after her daughter’s funeral, Lightner founded the Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) — originally called Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) but was changed on the recommendation of a consulting firm. Because of their efforts Busch was charged with vehicular homicide and did eventually serve 21 months in jail.
In July 1984, Reagan signed a law which encouraged more states to tighten their drunk driving laws. By the following year, all 50 states had raised its drinking age to 21.
In 1985, MADD had expanded to some 320 chapters and 600,000 volunteers and donors nationwide. MADD promoted a campaign to lower the nation’s legal blood alcohol content from 0.1 percent to 0.08.
In year 2000, the Clinton administration passed a law reducing federal highway funds to any states that failed to adopt the 0.08 standard. Just 20 years of MADD founding, alcohol-related fatalities had dropped some 40 percent and states were beginning to treat alcohol-related fatalities as homicide.
Lightner’s daughter, Serena, founded SADD, Students Against Drunk Driving (SADD), now known as Students Against Destructive Decisions. Like MADD, the organization formed chapters across the country.