Anyone convicted of driving under the influence is bound to face a number of punishments. While the type and severity of penalties for DUI will vary, Nevada courts will always impose one requirement in particular: the need to attend a session of the DUI Victim Impact Panel Program.
Instituted in 1982 by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, these panels amount to forums at which victims of DUI offenders explain the impact the accident has had on themselves, their families, their neighbors and their friends. While hammering home an understanding of the physical and emotional damage that DUI driving can cause, these forums often serve as catharsis for the victims themselves.
The Purpose of the DUI Panels
The DUI Victim Impact Panel Program attempts to raise awareness by putting a human face on the potential consequences of driving while impaired. Mothers Against Drunk Driving originally instituted the VIP program with the intention of:
- Allowing victims and their families to illustrate the ways in which the actions of impaired drivers have permanently affected their lives.
- Giving offenders the opportunity to witness first-hand the pain with which victims of impaired drivers must live on a daily basis.
- Breaking the cycle of denial by encouraging DUI offenders to shift the focus away from themselves and toward the consequences of their actions.
- Engendering a change of attitude with the hope of preventing recidivism.
What You Can Expect at a DUI Victim Impact Panel
Although you may initially fear that the panel will hold you and the other attendees up to censure and condemnation, you will find that the opposite is true. At any VIP forum, either the victims or their families will always hold center stage.
As they speak, they will likely delve deeply into the physical and emotional suffering, financial devastation, anger and frustration that they have suffered. To assist in driving home their points, they may also present some graphic and upsetting images. It’s best to be prepared for this.
All who speak at a VIP forum do so on a voluntary basis. If the injured parties themselves will not or cannot appear, their friends or families might tell their stories instead. At any particular panel, a reformed alcoholic may also choose to give a presentation.
Rather than attempt to humiliate the attendees, these forums have but one intended result: to ensure that the next time one of them considers driving under the influence, what he has seen and heard while attending the DUI Victim Impact Panel Program will give him second thoughts about taking the wheel.
What You Need to Know
In the state of Nevada, each county has its own rules for running these victim impact panels. While some permit offenders to satisfy this requirement online, that is not the case in Clark County.
In addition, the particular locality in which your panel takes place may or may not allow you to show up with payment in hand on the day of the presentation. Some counties insist that you register in advance before attending. Finding this out ahead of time is your responsibility.
It is also important to realize that you might have to take a breathalyzer test at the door. If you fail this test, you may find yourself barred from entry and thereby forced to miss the meeting. In the event that this unplanned absence should cause you to violate a conditional discharge, you will face resentencing and a possible jail sentence.
Does the Victim Impact Panel Program Work?
The success of any VIP forum depends on its presentation. It is vital that the attendees do not perceive the victims as confrontational. Multiple offenders in particular may view them in this light, and when they do, a higher incidence of future occurrences is often the unintended result.
Overall, however, the evidence shows that when used in combination with such additional tools as ignition interlock devices and mandatory attendance at DUI court, the Victim Impact Panel Program often performs as intended. After offenders have listened to the victims’ side of the DUI experience, they gain an increased understanding and a lowered tendency to backslide.
Do Not Fail to Satisfy This Obligation
For anyone convicted of driving under the influence in Nevada, attendance at the DUI Victim Impact Panel Program is mandatory. The courts take this seriously, so it’s important not only to attend as soon as possible but also to keep your attorney and the court apprised of your status in this regard. If you should find it difficult to complete this requirement for any reason, contact the criminal defense attorneys at Weiner Law Group at 702-202-0500 or fill out our contact form for assistance.