In California, DUI convicts are usually required to attend a number of mandatory classes. This includes alcohol and drug classes, as well as driving education classes. These classes meet several times per month, with classes spanning approximately 2 to 3 hours.
One class that must be attended in California is the Victim Impact Panel. To find out whether you need to participate in this class, speak to your DUI lawyer. If you do not have a DUI lawyer, contact Los Angeles DUI Attorney today for more information.
What Is a Victim Impact Panel?
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) is an organization that exists to provide insight into the true harm caused by drunk driving. They run a program in California that acts effectively as a seminar. This seminar is called the Victim Impact Panel.
The panel typically involves several speakers explaining what happens when a person drinks and drives. Usually, these speakers are people who have been injured in drunk driving accidents. The discussion lasts for several hours with hopes of attendees being exposed to experiences that persuade them to never drink and drive again.
How Much Do Victim Impact Panels Cost?
Victim Impact Panels are not normally free. They may have a cost ranging between $15 to $50. This is not a fine or fee; instead, it is reported as a donation or voluntary contribution. Though, if you refuse to pay, the administrators may refuse to provide you with proof of attendance at the program. This cost can add up over time, making your overall DUI costs even more overwhelming.
Can You Be Turned Away from Victim Impact Panels?
Victim Impact Panels usually only run for two or three hours and, unfortunately, there are usually many people ordered to attend the programs. For this reason, they often get overcrowded, resulting in people being turned away from attending. This is because the panels can only accept so many people at once.
To circumvent this fact, some people choose to show up to the seminars early. How early you need to show up depends on how many people plan to attend the event. In some cases, it is appropriate to show up 2 or 3 hours early if you want a seat.
How Often Do Victim Impact Panels Occur?
Victim Impact Panels are run by MADD once per month. They may take off for holidays as well, further limiting the number of available dates. While thousands of people may need to complete the program, there are seldom enough spots for all of them during the course of a year.
Can You Attend Victim Impact Panels Online?
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, MADD rarely offered online Victim Impact Panels, if ever. Yet it is now possible to attend these panels online rather than in-person. To attend a Victim Impact Panel online, you must verify your eligibility with the program’s administrators. Usually, the eligibility requirements include proving that you do not have the ability to attend a panel in person.
What Is the Purpose of Victim Impact Panels?
Victim Impact Panel programs are designed to assist drunk and drugged driving offenders in internalizing the long-term effects of substance-impaired driving. Through the classes, attendees can develop empathy and understanding toward the tragedies that occur due to driving under the influence. This will hopefully leave a permanent impression that changes the way they think and behave, preventing future DUI offenses.
What Is the Goal of Victim Impact Panels?
Victim Impact Panels tend to have the same goals. These goals include:
- Giving victims of DUI accidents the opportunity to share their experiences and feelings
- Making DUI offenders more aware of the severity of their crime
- Providing DUI offenders with knowledge regarding the real-life harm caused by their drunk driving
- Raising awareness toward DUI prevention and the victims of DUI accidents
The goal of Victim Impact Panels is not to blame, shame, or ridicule offenders. Rather, these programs are intended to educate people and make them more aware of the consequences associated with drinking and driving.
The MADD website specifically states that its intent is to “help drunk and drugged driving offenders to recognize and internalize the lasting and long-term effects of substance-impaired driving.”
Who Needs to Attend Victim Impact Panels?
The judge who presides over your DUI case will decide whether you need to attend a Victim Impact Panel. Probation officers can also mandate attendance to such programs.
Keep in mind that Victim Impact Panel attendance is usually limited to first-time DUI offenders. In some cases, the time spent at the panel will count as time served or time spent doing community service. Offenders only get credit for attendance if they can produce a certificate of completion in court.
Are Victim Impact Panels the Same as DUI School?
Victim Impact Panels are not equivalent to DUI schools. If you are convicted of a DUI in California, you must enroll in a DUI school as part of your restitution in addition to any Victim Impact Panel requirements. The length of this class and the cost vary based on the driver’s specific DUI offense and the type of DUI school they are attending.
Is Attending a Victim Impact Panel Mandatory?
Attending a Victim Impact Panel is not necessary, but it is in your best interest to attend if you are given the option. Attending can result in reduced jail time or additional community service hours. Though, you should note that not everyone has the opportunity to benefit from Victim Impact Panels.
Learn More About Victim Impact Panels
If you have been convicted of a DUI and are now dealing with the consequences, you should seek assistance from a DUI attorney. With legal counsel, you can learn how to best complete your parole obligations and have your license restored. If you have already completed your parole, a lawyer can help you get the criminal charges expunged from your record.
To learn more about how a DUI attorney can help you, get in touch with Los Angeles DUI Attorney by calling or submitting the form on this page.