Mothers Against Drunk Driving chapter returning to Fresno

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- MADD's mission is the same it has always been -- to end drunk driving.

A state grant is allowing Mothers Against Drunk Driving to relaunch in Fresno after the local chapter fell by the wayside in recent years.

"We have a new staff, we have robust volunteers and we're just ready to get back out and pound the pavement," says Natasha Thomas. "We had great volunteers in the past who really paved the way and really laid down the foundation here in the Fresno area, and we want to get back to that."

Thomas reintroduced MADD to a large group of law enforcement members and prosecutors during a special conference in Downtown Fresno Wednesday.

The non-profit's reemergence also comes with a partnership with the District Attorney's Office.

"Part of the reason we brought MADD in this year is because our office basically remains dedicated to aggressively prosecute driving under the influence," says Deputy District Attorney Steven Ueltzen.

In 2018, the Fresno Police Department investigated 391 DUI collisions, which claimed eight lives and resulted in another 70 injuries.

Local experts say a big cause for concern is the number of DUI cases that involve offenders who are below the legal drinking age.

"One of the trends that's been tracking for the last several years that we have a higher than average, and probably Fresno County's most problematic area is youthful DUI offenders," Ueltzen said.

That's where MADD comes in. Organizers are looking to take a proactive approach and engage young people on the dangers of driving while impaired.

"Utilizing our programs and services, whether that be our Under Age Drinking Initiatives or our Power of Youth or Power of Parent programs, and victim services and help families navigate through that court process or our community events," Thomas said.

The annual Walk like Madd awareness fundraiser is scheduled for this September at Woodward Park.
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