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April 20, 1990 - Image 94

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-04-20

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

SUSAN WEINGARDEN

A

Special to The Jewish News

s assistant Wayne
County prosecut-
ing attorney, Mar-
tin Krohner saw
drunk drivers get-
ting away with murder. First
he got mad; then he joined
MADD.
A co-founder of Mothers
Against Drunk Drivers in
Michigan and the Oakland
County Chapter of MADD,
Krohner was recently
honored in Lansing as
MADD, Michigan 1989
Volunteer of the Year.
On a recent day, Krohner
spent his lunch hour working
with the MADD legislative
group. Much of his evening
was using the phone with
fellow MADD volunteers.
While the time involved
varies, it is not unusual for
Krohner to spend 20-30 hours
a week as a MADD volunteer.
He is fierce in his determina-
tion to bring about a change
in the public's attitude toward
drunk driving.
Krohner says, "MADD is an
advocate for those individuals
who have been victimized by
the drinking driver. We seek
to bring this problem to the
attention of the public and
attempt to have laws
strengthened to stop the kill-
ing on our highways."
Krohner cites a multiple
death accident as the impetus
that got him involved in
MADD. "I had a case in 1981
where a teenage drunk driver
struck a car bearing four
young children, their mother
and her fiance. The car was
cut into two pieces. The
mother and children were all
killed; the fiance is a
paraplegic.
"The teenager got six
months in the house of correc-
tion and was picked up soon
after for a second drunk-
driving violation. It seemed
to me that nobody cared."
He adds, "I saw so much

an

PRIM APPII 9n iggn

destruction. Something had
to be done."
After seeing MADD
founder Candy Lightner on a
local TV show, Krohner
"jumped in with two feet"
and co-founded MADD in
Michigan in 1982 with a man
whose son had been killed by
a drunk driver.
Krohner said MADD's big-
gest handicap at the time was
society did not view drunk
driving as a problem. "As a
prosecutor, I saw people kill-
ing people, injuring them and
making them burdens to
their families and the public.
The people who caused these
horrendous crimes were never
punished. Hardly anyone
went to jail.
"Even for killing people,
nine out of ten drunk drivers
would plead guilty to
negligent homicide. They
generally paid a fine and
were put on probation. The
victims' families just had to
live with that."
In addition, drunk driving
is not a high priority of the
criminal justice system. "The
jails are overcrowded,"he says.
"Judges are reluctant to put
a business person convicted of
drunk driving in jail with
criminals who have commit-
ted armed robbery or rape or
murder, so they are put back
out on the street."

For the past few years,
Krohner has advocated an
alternate detention facility
for drunk drivers. "I
developed a concept for a low-
security facility that would be
supported by those confined
there. The facility would pro-
vide alcohol treatment and
rehabilitation and would
serve as a self-functioning in-
stitution."
Krohner is attempting to
get his proposal sponsored in
the state legislature.
The National Highway
Traffic Safety Administration
reported that 23,351 people
were killed in the United
States in 1988 in alcohol-

related traffic accidents. Ac-
cording to MADD, 793 of
those deaths occurred in
Michigan.
Krohner insists these
deaths were not accidental.
"If you killed someone
deliberately with a gun, you
would be convicted of first
degree murder and go to jail
for life. If you use an auto
while drunk, society says it is
sorry but it is an accident; it
is not deliberate.
"To me there is no dif-
ference. I believe people who
drink to excess and drive and
injure or kill someone have
committed a willful and
deliberate act. It is not an ac-
cident."
In addition to acting as a
public speaker for the
Oakland County Chapter of
MADD, Krohner serves in an
advisory capacity as legal co-
counsel. "I help put together
our legislative ideas and I ap-
pear in Lansing on behalf of
the group," he says.
He worked for the passage
of the Victim's Rights Amend-
ment to the Michigan Con-
stitution and helped re-write
the 1983 Michigan drunk-

grams such as Designated
Driver, Project Graduation,
and the red ribbon Tie One
On campaign for increasing
public awareness. "I am
somewhat amazed that the
public response has been as
fast and as good as it has," he
says.
Unfortunately, frustration
sets in while trying to reach
the law makers. "We've been
trying to tighten up the
drunk-driving laws even
more,"he says, "but with the
legislature, it's like pulling
teeth They don't have room on
their agenda; of course,
everything changes when
their family is involved."
As part of the MADD pro-
gram, members offer a sup-
port group to accident victims
and family members who
don't know where to go for
help. Krohner gets calls in
the middle of night from peo-
ple who have been injured or
have lost a family member
from a drunk-driving acci-
dent. Bethany Goodman,
MADD, Michigan, executive
director, says, "Marty
deserves praise for his sen-
sitive, supportive efforts with

for his involvement in the Say
No To Drugs Campaign and
serves on the Substance
Abuse Committee for the
Men's Club at Congregation
Shaarey Zedek.
"He is always busy," says
his wife, Marlene. The father
of two teenagers, Krohner, 45,
enjoys his status as a certified
master gardener. He relaxes
with his model trains and
works out at the JCC. When
time permits, he tries his
hand at golf.

driving laws. "Marty's exper-
tise as a prosecutor is ex-
tremely valuable in our quest
for getting drunk-driving
legislation," said Greg Bien,
president of the Oakland
County Chapter of MADD.
"He has been instrumental in
helping us frame our goals."
Krohner credits MADD pro-

victims. His unsurpassed
commitment has resulted in
substantial differences in the
lives of thousands."
Along with his key role in
MADD, Krohner is active in
many community organiza-
tions in Farmington Hills. He
received an award from the
Farmington Hills Police Chief

very involved with the com-
munity."
Marlene Krohner describes
her husband as sensitive and
caring. "He gets so upset
when he sees victims of in-
justice," she says. He
describes his personality _as
outgoing and balanced. "I try
to achieve a compromise bet-

A native of Detroit,
Krohner has served in the
Juvenile Division for the past
five of his seventeen year
association with the Wayne
County Prosecutor's Office.
He credits his wife with his
involvement in the communi-
ty. "A long time ago my wife
said, 'If you don't like
something, don't sit and com-
plain; go out and do some-
thing about it.' So, I've been
doing something ever since."
Additionally, he notes, he is
following the example set by
his family. "My parents and
grandparents owned Grunts'
Market in Detroit. They were

MAIM' S

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