Why Are DUI Offenders Required to Attend Victim Impact Panels?

Some states require drunk driving offenders to attend a victim impact panel as part of their sentence.

Driving under the influence (DUI) will usually result in fines, jail time, and driver's license penalties. Some states also require offenders to attend a "victim impact panel" (VIP) to learn about the possible dangers and consequences of drinking and driving. This article outlines the VIP requirements for a DUI and how they can be satisfied.

What Is a Victim Impact Panel?

Simply put, a VIP is an opportunity for victims of drunk driving to share their stories. VIPs are generally conducted in a group setting and will include one or more speakers. Victims often talk about how they have personally been impacted by an impaired driving accident. Speakers might talk about personal injuries, financial suffering, or the loss of a loved one due to impaired driving.

VIPs are intended to motivate DUI offenders to change by educating them as to the possible consequences of DUI collisions. In other words, the purpose of VIPs is to advance public safety by reducing the probability that DUI offenders will re-offend.

VIPs are generally non-confrontational and aren't intended to shame the attendees. DUI offenders are required to attend but generally don't have to participate in the discussions.

When Are VIPs Required?

A Victim Impact Panel may be required as part of a DUI conviction sentencing or as a term of probation. A prosecutor might also require attendance at a VIP as part of a diversion or other plea agreement.

VIPs typically cost from $50 to $100, with the costs paid by the offender. VIPs are generally hosted by advocacy groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) or state agencies. Many groups now offer online participation. Participants will receive a certificate of completion at the end of the meeting to prove attendance.

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