skip to nav skip to content
Chris Mann has the statistics to back up his passion for stopping drunk driving.
Nationally, 10,228 people were killed by a drunk driver in 2010 - one every 52 minutes. For every fatal accident, 30 are injured - about 345,000 people a year.
Mann knows the statistics. He is a statistic.
Mann became a number when the former police officer stopped a car on his overnight shift in January 2003.
"I caught a glimpse of headlights behind me, and before I knew it I'd been hit by a drunk driver and thrown to the side of the road," Mann said. "I'm very thankful that nothing worse happened, but it was enough that I was unable to fully come back to the road as a police officer."
Mann tried for a year to regain the strength in his legs to get back on the beat, but to no avail. Now, he is a prosecuting attorney and volunteer for Mothers Against Drunk Driving, trying to help victims end what he calls a senseless crime.
Kansas laws have had "great improvement," Mann said. After the implementation of the interlock ignition device that does not allowing a former drunk driver to start their vehicle if they register over the legal limit, drunk driving fatalities decreased 19 percent. The refusal law that allows prosecutors to charge someone who will not take a breathalyzer with penalties in line with a DUI also has helped.
In Kansas, the legal limit is 0.08. Mann said bloodshot or glassy eyes, slurred speech and poor motor skills are indicators that drivers may be over the limit. There are not ways around the system, he said.
"I have seen a number of people try a number of things. They range from sticking a penny under their tongue, hoping to beat the Intoxilyzer, to drinking a bunch of water or coffee," Mann said. "Those things don't work. They have no basis in science whatsoever."
Mann said MADD's message needs to continue to be delivered, so everyone understands the consequences of drinking and driving.
"If I'm able to tell my story and to show how I've been effected, and talk to others and relate their stories as well, I think maybe more people will come to understand what it means to drink and drive - what you can take from somebody through the selfishness of wanting to drink and drive," Mann said.
Mann talked about the penalties associated with drinking and driving and its lingering effects on the "At Issue" program. A copy of the podcast can be found here.