Tom and Arlene Deutscher and Donna and Lynn Mickelson are the parents of a young couple, Aaron and Allison Deutscher, who – along with their daughter Brielle and an unborn child – were killed by a drunk driver in a crash on North Dakota roads in July 2012. These four parents turned their grief into action and have been working tirelessly since that time to fight impaired driving in the state.
The two couples have undertaken a number of efforts to raise awareness of the problem of impaired driving and strengthen laws to deter drunk drivers. They partnered with the North Dakota Department of Transportation to help produce a media campaign on the issue, they created an annual fundraising event, and they transport the crashed vehicle to schools throughout the state for educational presentations.
In 2013, the Deutschers and Mickelsons partnered with legislators, state government officials, and advocacy groups to secure the passage of “Brielle’s Law.” Signed into law that year, the legislation increased penalties for all DUI offenders, criminalized testing refusal, and assured mandatory participation in the 24/7 Sobriety Program for all repeat offenders. The education and legislative efforts are helping contribute to a culture that may be spurring a decrease in impaired driving fatalities; since 2013, the percentage of alcohol-related fatalities in the state has dropped from 50.7 percent to 44.2 percent.