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A Patriot Ledger series: Summary | PART 1 | PART 2 | PART 3 | UPDATES

Melanie's Story

A first-hand story from the grandfather of 13-year-old victim Melanie Powell
Memories of Melanie: A photo slideshow


State ranked among the worst in nation
Quincy judge was among first to take a hard line


TIMELINE: How Massachusetts drunken driving law has changed
Alcohol's causes and effects
How local and state courts treat repeat drunken drivers
Busiest courts in state for drunken driving arraignments

The cost of drunken driving

Massachusetts fails compared with other states
Death toll from drunken driving

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MADD: Ledger series wins top national award

The Patriot Ledger has won this year's top national print media award from Mothers Against Drunk Driving for a special report on habitual drunken drivers.

The award was announced today at a ceremony in Washington.

"Driving to Endanger," a three-part series published Nov. 15-18, examined flaws in the state's 10,000-word drunken-driving law and profiled a half-dozen drivers who were facing their sixth, seventh, even ninth drunken-driving charge.

Visit MADD's web site and read about the award and of other recipientsThe series also looked at sentencing in drunken-driving homicides and explored the cost of drunken driving to victims and society.

The series won MADD's Award of Excellence for print. "Dateline NBC" won the group's Award of Excellence for broadcast media.

Awards in 14 other categories were also given out to newspapers, magazines, television and radio broadcasters, including ABC-TV's "Good Morning America," Good Housekeeping magazine and The Washington Post.

"The MADD Media Awards program highlights those who go above and beyond in their coverage of drunk driving and underage drinking and the result is increased public awareness as well as a placeholder in time for those many victims' families whose lives have been so tragically impacted," Wendy Hamilton, MADD's national president, said.

More than a dozen Patriot Ledger reporters, photographers, editors, page designers and researchers worked on the project.

Patriot Ledger Managing Editor Terry Ryan said the paper is proud of the series and the impact it had.

"When newspapers take on a project like this, the hope is that it will result in some good. In this case, we were able to alert our readers to some real inadequacies in the law," he said. "It appears there is some momentum in the Legislature to address these issues."

A bill that would stiffen the penalties for repeat drunken drivers passed the House on June 15 is expected to come up for a vote next week in the Senate.

The series "Driving to Endanger" and related stories can be read online. Go to and click on special reports.





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