State DUI laws allow courts to impose penalties including fines, driver license suspension, and jail time. However, these fail to address the issues that cause people to drink and drive. As a result, many states are adding alcohol education and treatment programs to the list of penalties for a DUI conviction. A victim impact panel is one of these programs and it carries the endorsement of the organization Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).
Victim Impact Panel Basics
A victim impact panel is a meeting attended by individuals affected by drunk driving and those convicted of DUI. MADD provides speakers with the intention of increasing awareness of the effects of drunk driving. Members of MADD speak about their experiences and individuals convicted of DUI sometimes contribute to the discussion, which is often moderated by a police officer.
Meetings are held throughout the country and the format is designed to be open and honest without being accusatory. The goal is to help individuals convicted of DUI understand how their actions affect others over both the short and long-terms. Meetings also help attendees empathize with each other and understand tragedies resulting from drunk driving. The hope is that DUI offenders will change their thoughts and behaviors, helping to reduce the number of DUI incidents.
Victims of DUI use these meetings to share their thoughts and feelings and help themselves heal. They talk about the accidents that affected their loved ones or themselves and reveal how these events changed their lives. Judgment and blame have no place at victim impact panels. These meetings instead provide a supportive environment for both DUI offenders and victims.
As a condition of probation, a court may require an individual convicted of DUI to participate in a victim impact panel. Failure to attend is considered a parole violation that is likely to result in jail time. These meetings are particularly effective for DUI offenders who do not internalize the messages conveyed by the court or through other alcohol education programs.
At victim impact panel meetings, DUI offenders receive first-hand accounts of the anger, devastation, and loss experienced by victims of DUI incidents and their loved ones. Some offenders find these sessions so helpful that they continue to attend long after fulfilling their probation obligations. Talk to a DUI attorney sourced through DUIRights.com to find out whether victim impact panel attendance is a potential sentencing alternative in your case.