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McMorris family, MADD honor Sen. Schumer for helping advance legislation to reduce drunken driving

The McMorris family of Wading River recently joined Mothers Against Drunk Driving to honor Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-Brooklyn) for his efforts last year to help advance legislation to increase drunk driving prevention technology.

The $1 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, signed into law by President Joe Biden in November, included legislation that will require automakers to equip all new cars with drunk driving prevention technology, including features like lane departure warning and attention assist, cameras to monitor a driver’s head and eyes and alcohol detection systems. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration now has three years to evaluate the new technologies and set standards for impaired driving prevention. Automakers then have three years to implement the new manufacturing standards.

During a ceremony in Huntington on May 20, the organization recognized Mr. Schumer as a “Legislative Hero” and presented him with an award for helping to champion the Reduce Impaired Driving for Everyone Act.

“Senator Schumer has been with us through the long fight to get drunk driving prevention technology into all cars,” said Alisa McMorris, whose 12-year-old son Andrew was killed by a drunk driver in 2018. “He understood this needed to be a bipartisan effort, and he welcomed the participation of senators and representatives on both sides of the aisle.”

Her daughter, Arianna, also spoke during the ceremony, thanking Mr. Schumer for his support. “Your heroic efforts remind me each day to never give up and always fight for what I believe in,” she said. 

Ms. McMorris said she’s troubled by new data released by the NHTSA that found alcohol-related deaths increased 14% from 2019 to 2020 with 11,654 deaths. That trend, she said, means the need for the technology is even greater now than when they first began lobbying.

“Drunk and impaired driving is an ugly, 100% preventable crime,” she said. “It is a crime with very personal and very devastating consequences.”

The McMorris family was also joined by MADD volunteer Sheila Lockwood, whose 23-year-old son, Austin, was also killed by a drunk driver in 2018.

“Thank you [Mr. Schumer] for allowing your heart to be touched by our tragedies and for using your many skills to make other New Yorkers and our neighbors around this nation safer on our roads,” Ms. McMorris said.

Accepting the award, Mr. Schumer said he was “humbled and honored” and vowed to continue fighting for the technology. “People who are able to light a candle after something so cruel, so inhuman, so tragic are incredible,” he said. They spend so much of their time lighting a candle. It’s never going to bring either of the children back. But they know they’re preventing others. It’s an amazing thing.”