MADD announces drunk driving figures

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Right now, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) say it's time to talk about Virginia's progress in combating drunk driving.

The holidays are an especially deadly time for people who drink and then get behind the wheel. Virginia ranks better than some of our neighboring states, but she's still in in need of an improvement.

Hundreds of people die each year in drunk driving related accidents. Victims' family members are doing all they can to decrease that number.

It's a tragedy every relative dreads - finding out a drunk driver killed their family member. Mother's Against Drunk Driving are asking state leaders to crack down on people who get behind the wheel after drinking too much. Charles Moncure spoke Monday after a drunk driver killed his dad in 2000.

"Everytime you get around Thanksgiving or a birthday or family gathering, he's not there and he should be," said Moncure. "Drunk driving is a senseless crime."

Lt. Governor Bill Bolling and Virginia State Police Superintendent Col. Steve Flaherty came to the news conference which focused on the nation's fight against drunk driving. Each state is ranked on a five star scale. Virginia grabbed four stars out of five. The only one it lacks is ignition interlocks for all first time convicted drunk drivers. It requires them to blow into a device. If they have any alcohol on their breath. The car will not start, which may just save a life.

"All too many times, we have to go into a home during the holidays and tell them a loved one is not going home," said Virginia State Police Col. Steve Flaherty. "It's certainly not a setting you want to be in."

MADD says drunk drivers killed nearly 900 people just during the holiday period between Thanksgiving and New Year's day in 2009, and roughly 11,000 each year. It cost the U.S. More than $132 billion  in federal and state money. More than anything, it costs families someone they'll never get back.

"Families are devastated," said Virginia MADD Manager, Chris Konschak. "It's such a sudden loss when someone is killed by a drunk driver."

The campaign continues its fifth year preventing drunk driving related accidents as MADD strives to save more precious lives down the road. For more information on MADD'S campaign to battle driving under the influence, click here.

Copyright 2011 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.