Getting a DUI comes with severe legal consequences. Not only can you seriously injure yourself, but you could cause others fatal harm. What happens after a DUI conviction is made?
Some DUI offenders may need an extra push in the right direction. This is where a Victim Impact Panel comes into play. Dealing with legal charges is one thing, but morally, there might be more that needs to be done.
In a DUI Case, What Is a VIP?
A victim impact panel, or a VIP for short, is scheduled when someone is charged with a DUI. This panel is a formal meeting with victims of a DUI who have had their lives change drastically from another person driving under the influence. The victims on the panel will share their stories, educate the DUI offender, and make known how serious a DUI can be.
Someone who is a victim on this panel could mean that their lives were affected by a drunk driver due to:
- A drunk driving accident
- A drunk driver
- Impaired driving crashed
- Or due to an individual under the influence of drugs
During the panel discussion, each victim will be able to explain in full detail how any of these above instances affected their lives. Some stories could induce personal accounts or first-hand observations.
These panels are held nationwide, so it’s easy to find if you are required to attend. They often happen as well, so there is always an opportunity to sit in.
What Goals Does an Impact Panel for Victims of DUI Accidents Have?
A VIP generally has the same goals for each meeting. These goals likely include:
- Giving the victims a voice to express their feelings and discuss their experiences
- Make known to a DUI offender how serious it is for someone on the other side of the accident
- Provide a DUI offender with first-hand evidence of how actions similar to those affected their lives
- Raising awareness for DUIs and driving while impaired
However, it’s important to note that these panels don’t shame or bully the offenders at all. The main aim is to educate the offenders through first-hand experience and personal stories as long as the offender is made aware of actions that were carried out while driving under the influence, and the goal of the meeting is met.
Generally, a VIP is led and put together by MADD. MADD is commonly known as the Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Its mission is to combat drunk driving, aid in drugged driving, support victims of these crimes, and eliminate underage drinking.
In addition to planning and hosting these panels, MADD offers countless free services to support victims of drunk driving, and also partners with popular insurance companies to raise awareness for DUIs.
Who Is Eligible to Attend a Victim Impact Panel?
All individuals who are convicted of DUIs may be required to attend this panel. This panel can count towards their sentence, most likely for community service. The judge presiding over each case will make an educated decision as to whether or not the convicted individual will be required to attend.
If required to attend, a parole officer will also be there to ensure the individual is fully participating. Generally, a required attendance to a VIP panel will be limited to first-time DUI offenders.
What Is the Cost of Attending a Victim Impact Panel?
If you are someone who has committed a DUI, you can choose to attend this panel. If you wish to register, the cost is around $25. This fee can be paid online using a debit or credit card.
However, you can also pay in person when you arrive with cash. Upon arriving, you must bring with you a valid photo ID and DUI case number and arrive in time. If you wish to reschedule, you must do so 24 hours before the scheduled meeting.
After completing the panel, you must obtain proof of attending and verify it. Simply showing up and registering isn’t enough proof, so it is vital to keep the completed copy of completion and submit it to the necessary department.
Is a VIP the Same As DUI School?
It’s important to state that a victim impact panel is not the same as attending a court-mandated DUI school. DUI schools are an official program put on by the DMV, for starters. Its program revolves around alcohol education and prevention.
You will be required by the courts to attend DUI school if:
- You were caught driving under the influence
- You were driving with a dangerous blood alcohol count of .08% or higher
- You were caught driving underage with a blood alcohol count of .08% or higher
The length of a DUI school course will entirely depend on the case. On the other hand, a VIP is not mandatory and will only be assigned to the convicted individual if required as extra education. Additionally, there are additional penalties that a DUI offender can face, including:
- Three to five years of probation
- DUI school ranging from three to nine months
- Countless fines
- Penalty assignments that must be paid and range from $1,5000 to $2,000
- A driver’s licenses suspension
- Up to six months of jail time
- In rare cases, work release
- Increased car insurance
Speak to a Los Angeles DUI Lawyer for More Information
If you are someone who is charged with a DUI, you might be asked to attend a victim impact panel. If this is the case, you will bear witness to the consequences of actions similar to yours. A VIP is a learning experience that also can raise awareness of the dangers of drunk driving.