Director of Epidemiology and Prevention Research Division, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and AlcoholismRalph Hingson, who was chosen in 2004 to head up the Prevention department of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), provided MADD with critical fodder in its push for a nationwide 0.08% blood alcohol concentration (BAC) arrest threshold.
Before his move into government, Hingson hung his hat at the Boston University School of Public Health, where he published over 50 manuscripts on the dangers of alcohol. In a 1996 research report, Hingson claimed that a nationwide “.08” standard would save “500 to 600 lives a year.” This bogus statistic was repeated by elected officials at every level of government, including then-president Bill Clinton. Unfortunately, Hingson’s sound bite had no demonstrable facts behind it. A 1999 analysis by the nonpartisan U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) looked at Hingson’s methodology and declared in its report to Congress: “The study’s conclusion that 500 to 600 fewer fatal crashes would occur annually if all states had .08 [percent] BAC laws is unfounded.”
But shortly after this statistically flawed study made national headlines, MADD made Hingson a national board member and its vice president of public policy.
Hingson is also the senior advisor to Join Together Online (JTO), a web-based project of the Boston University School of Public Health. JTO is funded by the anti-alcohol Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and is dedicated to marginalizing the responsible consumption of adult beverages.