Marissa’s death was preventable.

It was the result of the terrible decisions, actions and inactions by many throughout the course of the day on October 2nd, 2020. Our focus since that day has been to find ways to prevent this tragedy from happening again. It’s not enough to make sure this driver never kills another person. We want to look at everything that went wrong that night in this specific case and help promote changes in each of the following areas.

Wedding Venues

The Wedding Venue industry has exploded in Oklahoma over the past few years. In the past, most weddings took place in churches. Now, according to The Knot, 98% of all wedding receptions take place at a venue other than a church. This has created the potential for drivers to leave the reception after having too much to drink. Most, if not all, venues have rules and plans to reduce the risk of a tragedy like this, but often the rules are not implemented out of a concern that the venue will receive unfavorable online reviews or a reputation which may negatively impact future business for them. This is what happened to Marissa. To learn more about our efforts to encourage active enforcement of policies to prevent impaired guests from leaving special event venues, visit our wedding venue advocacy page.

Wrong Way Driving

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol stops approximately 300 wrong way drivers in the Oklahoma City metro area every year. This is nearly ONE EVERY DAY! They are not the result of elderly drivers getting confused or youthful drivers acting recklessly. Nearly every time, the driver is impaired by alcohol, drugs or both. There is currently a pilot program in Oklahoma seeking to save lives by addressing this serious problem. We support this effort 100% and you can learn about our work with this program on our wrong way driving advocacy page.

Repeat DUI Offenders

According to a statistic cited by nation-wide advocacy group Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), by the time a person is arrested for their first DUI, they have already driven under the influence 80 times! And, research has shown that with each DUI arrest, the likelihood of causing a fatality DUI collision increases dramatically. This is why we are passionate about reducing the number of repeat offenders on Oklahoma roadways. If we want to reduce DUI fatalities, we must address the leniency with which DUI is treated prior to an innocent driver’s death! We are committed to working with our state legislators on several ideas to reduce the number of repeat DUI offenders on Oklahoma roads and actively support all efforts by others to do the same.

Interstate DUI Reporting

Marissa’s killer had been convicted of DUIs in 4 different states over the past 10 years. Every time he was arrested and convicted of DUI he was released on probation or his sentence was suspended and he walked away essentially free of consequences. We want to make sure data is being shared from state to state and that sentencing reflects the previous record of a driver, regardless of what state those other crimes were committed. We want to work with our legislators and any organizations who will be able to address this issue.