MADD presents Garcia with Legislative Hero Award  

Rep. Mike Garcia, R-Santa Clarita, left, receives the Legislative Hero Award from Mothers Against Drunk Driving Program Director Georgina Avilez, center, and Victim Services Specialist Shymari Sanchez-Willis. Habeba Mostafa/ The Signal

Members of Mothers Against Drunk Driving presented Rep. Mike Garcia, R-Santa Clarita, with a Legislative Hero Award for his support in The HALT Act.  

According to the MADD website, “The HALT Act, [which] was signed into law on Nov. 15, 2021, directs the federal government to require all new cars come equipped with smart technology that passively, seamlessly and unobtrusively detects and stops impaired driving.” 

According to Garcia, the bill was misinterpreted, and misinformation indicated that the government had access to turn off one’s car.  

“What the legislation did was require some technology to be installed in vehicles so that if someone had a history of DUIs they had to prove to the car that they weren’t inebriated before driving the vehicle,” Garcia said. “There was a lot of misinformation about how the government can just turn off your car, which is absolutely not the case. What the bill did allow funding for (was) a study to look at the feasibility from a technology perspective.” 

MADD Program Director Georgina Avilez and Victim Services Specialist Shymari Sanchez-Willis reflected on how powerful the act is, and how many lives will benefit based on past statistics.  

“The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety estimates over 10,000 lives will be saved because of this technology. In 2021, there were 13,384 fatalities in motor vehicle traffic crashes, in which at least one driver with alcohol impaired representation, 31% of all traffic fatalities in the U.S., which is huge,” Avilez said.  

“The goal is to figure out some technology that prevents folks who are inebriated from driving without encroaching on constitutional rights of people, as well as not adding another safety concern,” Garcia added. “MADD is here to give us this token of appreciation for supporting the legislation. We’re going to continue moving forward and making sure that we can do whatever we can to mitigate this.” 

Sanchez-Willis believes that it’s important to also raise awareness among the youth to ensure future safety.  

“I think it’s important to raise that awareness, especially with our youth, among our youth, because I’m seeing recently that a lot of the victims and families that I am currently working with are underage and are involved in underaged drinking. MADD does provide education purposes with our youth, so I think it’s definitely important to continue that,” Sanchez-Willis said. 

If the public knows of someone or has been directly impacted by drunk drivers, they can contact MADD’s victim helpline at 877.MADD.HELP (1-877-623-3435) or visit 

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