If you’ve been arrested for a DUI, you may have heard or your attorney may have informed you that you need to attend a Victim Impact Panel. Here is some general information on what to expect at a Victim Impact Panel.

What is a Victim Impact Panel?

Victim Impact Panels were originally established by MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving.) It is an informal presentation that DUI offenders may be required to attend to learn about the devastating effects of drinking and driving and to encourage offenders to rethink their future decisions. Victim Impact Panels are very informal and non-confrontational.

Who speaks at a Victim Impact Panels?

The speakers at Victim Impact Panels can include volunteer speakers who have been injured, both physically and emotionally, as a result of a drunk driving accident. Other speakers may include family members of people who have been killed as a result of a drunk driving accident. Victim Impact Panels are often moderated by law enforcement officers or MADD representatives.

Who is required to attend a Victim Impact Panel?

Many first time DUI offenders are required to attend Victim Impact Panels. More and more judges are requiring the attendance at a Victim Impact Panel as part of an offender’s punishment for drinking and driving. Attendance at a Victim Impact Panel may also be required after a reckless driving charge or even speeding, depending on the nature of the offense and whether or not the driver is underage.

What is the purpose of a Victim Impact Panel?

The purpose of a Victim Impact Panel is to educate DUI offenders that the consequences of their actions can be both deadly and emotionally damaging to victims and their family members. Unlike other punishments issued after a DUI offense, Victim Impact Panels tend to focus on the emotional damage caused by tragic drunk driving accidents. Victim Impact Panels aim to tug at offenders’ heartstrings to have them understand that their mistakes could have caused devastating effects to an innocent victim and their family.

Where are Victim’s Impact Panels held?

A lot of panels may take place at your local courthouse, but Victim Impact Panels can also take place at local churches, schools, libraries or probation offices.

Does the judge find out if I don’t attend a victim’s impact panel?

Some states and counties may require you to bring a referral form with you to a Victim Impact Panel and may take note of your attendance. The judge may find out if you fail to attend a panel. Not attending a required panel may keep you from getting your driver’s license back and can create obstacles if you plan on expunging your DUI conviction.

Do victim’s impact panels cost money?

Sometimes Victim Impact Panels may charge you money in the form of a donation. MADD, for example, uses Victim Impact Panels to raise funds for their other activities.