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Posted at 7:25 PM ET, 02/25/2011

MADD president charged with DUI -- oh, the irony!

By Alexandra Petri

That's what I call DUIrony.

A former Mothers Against Drunk Driving chapter president was recently arrested on charges of drunk driving.


For years, I thought MADD's slogan was "Friends don't let friends drive drunks," which always confused me, because that seems to negate the concept of the designated driver.

I'm glad no one was hurt when former MADD chapter president Debra Oberlin was busted with an alleged BAC of .234.

But let's take a moment. That is some beautiful vintage irony right there. I've pointed out bad irony before. But this could be in the textbook. I hope when people Google "irony" in coming years, this is the first result. It deserves to be.

By Alexandra Petri  | February 25, 2011; 7:25 PM ET
Categories:  Petri  | Tags:  MADD, irony, oops  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: I want pockets, and I want them now
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"Clearance Auto Insurance" will give you a break if you buy two or more types of insurance. You may also get a reduction if you have more than one vehicle insured with the same company.

Posted by: fayejones26 | February 26, 2011 12:13 AM | Report abuse

WaPo headline lies again. It should be "former MADD..." but why should they tell the truth.

Posted by: rlj611 | February 26, 2011 11:55 AM | Report abuse

Isn't that what they call poetic justice? MADD and their supporters have browbeat the government into lowering the blood alcohol content to .008 for drivers so that makes most women legally drunk after drinking one cocktail after work (this lady's .234 reading would indicate she drank the whole bottle).

Driving impairment at .008 is negligible, like tuning your car radio, but can ruin your whole life if you are stopped by police at a roadblock, etc. In the meantime, the streets and highways have become a death zone caused by cell phone users. I have been crashed into twice in the past year by people talking on cellphones. There was another very near miss. Nothing illegal about that is it MADD?

Posted by: Lazarus40 | February 26, 2011 2:05 PM | Report abuse

What I have never liked about MADD is that their goals are to take whatever they are given legislatively and then demand more. There is no end. If they actually want something short of prohibition, then they should say what their goals are, what, if fulfilled, would cause them to disband, and let's have a conversation.

Posted by: Nemo24601 | February 26, 2011 3:23 PM | Report abuse

this mom looks like she's seen better days--rode hard, put up wet. Maybe she'll make a video about the "dangers" of drinking.

Posted by: Isocrates | February 27, 2011 3:56 AM | Report abuse

Give the girl a break. Even self-righteous people have clay feet. Forgive and forget. Can she do the same?

Let's see the same treatment applied to people who use cell phones while driving. And let's see MADD support it.

Posted by: samsara15 | February 27, 2011 8:54 PM | Report abuse

What's really ironic is the reason she was drinking. She just met the man of her dreams, and then she met his beautiful wife!

Posted by: divtune | February 27, 2011 9:22 PM | Report abuse

Just proves we're human after all. The attempt to do the right thing should be our goal.

...about as ironic as a former constitutonal law professor enacting multiple unconstitutional programs by executive fiat and through regulatory process bypassing the Congressional oversight process. But then again, why would that be news?

Posted by: theduck6 | February 28, 2011 7:45 AM | Report abuse

This doesn't surprise me and underlines the dangers of self-righteousness. I read a study recently where something like 10% of drivers admitted to driving while intoxicated in the past year. That is not my experience. Among people I know (who drink at all, and who are semi-honest) in my fairly close age range (I'm 40, so 10 years on either side) I'd say the rate (not necessarily in a year, but certainly at some point in their lives) approaches 100%. Virtually everyone does it/has done it at some point. That's why I think they should focus a lot more on habitual offenders vs. people who make one off mistakes - the statistics are clear that the vast majority of the problem is with people who do it repeatedly.

Posted by: indy474 | February 28, 2011 8:13 AM | Report abuse

It's less ironic than SADD for the MADDwoman. Let us hope on her behalf that she really will get her own message this time. Drunk driving kills and injures. Anyone afflicted with alcohol dependence (and anyone driving drunk has alcohol dependence) has a serious, but also manageable, chronic illness. Good luck, MADDwoman.

Posted by: frodot | February 28, 2011 8:21 AM | Report abuse

Notice that she is a former president of a local chapter that shut down years ago. That is not what the headline suggests. Doesn't change the personal misery, but makes it less of a big deal on an organizational or national scale.

Posted by: frodot | February 28, 2011 8:31 AM | Report abuse

Joe Bob Briggs used to write about "Drunks Against Mad Mothers" Or DAMM.

Posted by: GaryEMasters | February 28, 2011 9:26 AM | Report abuse

I agree with Lazarus40, MADD promotes draconian measures that ruin people's lives. For most people, calling a BAC of 0.08 drunk is ridiculous. But anyone who points this out gets attacked by MADD as being pro-drunk driving. Sure, a small percentage of people are drunk at this or even lower levels, but the police already have discretion to make an arrest at lower BACs if the person appears impaired. Above that BAC, however, the police have no discretion and must make an arrest, even if the person is clearly not impaired.

How about having a reality-based standard of impairment? Of course people should not be on the roads if they are drunk. I don't think anyone would argue otherwise. But the fact is, driving while tired is more dangerous than a 0.08 BAC. DUI limits should return to 0.12, or at least 0.10 to restore sanity to these laws.

This MADD woman, on the other hand, had a 0.234 BAC. By any standard, she was sh=tface schnockered. Deserves whatever punishment they throw at her.

Posted by: tomguy1 | February 28, 2011 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Alcoholism is a disease, so why are we treating this as a felony. These people shouldn't be in jail, they should be sent to treatment and required to have a permanent ignition interlock. But, the truth is the local governments make WAY too much money on DUI for there ever to be a change in our current system of fines, probation fees, attorney fees, home incarceration fees, etc., etc.

Posted by: cheerup0424 | February 28, 2011 2:58 PM | Report abuse

Debra Oberlin is a hypocrit. I hope the judge shows no mercy for the former president of Gainesville, Florida's MADD chapter. Drunk driving is becoming a huge problem in this economy when people try to self-medicate. Now Oberlin has been arrested for driving under the influence. First that preacher in Gainesville, now Debra Oberlin's deadly mistake behind the wheel of a moving weapon.

Thomas Chi

Posted by: ThomasChi | February 28, 2011 3:44 PM | Report abuse

Who gives a flying f*** if she's an ex-prez or not!!! MADD is nothing more than a "legal vigilante" against personal vendettas. I hope this dumb B**** get's the book thrown at her.
This goes beyond irony, it's absolute hypocrisy. MADD does nothing but destroy peoples' lives because they are pissed off. I hope she rots in Hell.

Posted by: Ih8phonies | March 1, 2011 10:29 PM | Report abuse

Who gives a flying f*** if she's an ex-prez or not!!! MADD is nothing more than a "legal vigilante" with personal vendettas. I hope this dumb B**** get's the book thrown at her.
This goes beyond irony, it's absolute hypocrisy. MADD does nothing but destroy peoples' lives because they are pissed off. I hope she rots in Hell.

Posted by: Ih8phonies | March 1, 2011 10:31 PM | Report abuse

Alcoholism is a disease???...BS!!!
Cancer, diabetes, or herpes is a disease.
Alcoholism is NOT a disease! It's an addiction, NOT a disease. Please don't confuse the two!!!
MADD obviously isn't getting their message across to the public. They are just "punishing" innocent people because they have a bone to pick with someone.
I only wish she could spend the rest of her life in jail for all the pain she caused others. DUI laws are stupid and fueled by idiots like MADD. Go figure.

Posted by: Ih8phonies | March 1, 2011 10:39 PM | Report abuse

.234?? Good lord!! That lady wasn't drunk, she is a drunk. She deserves to be put away for all those driving records she's ruined. People get pulled and charged like animals for having one drink because of MADD. She should be put on display with a sign in front of the Capitol.

Posted by: wcasey1 | March 3, 2011 9:47 AM | Report abuse

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