Another increasingly popular condition of probation for a DUI offense is that the defendant completes the Hospital and Morgue Program. Most of my clients who have been ordered to complete this program had no idea what it was or what it involved, other than what the name suggests.
Like the Mothers Against Drunk Driving Victim Impact Panel, the purpose of the HAM program, as it has become known as, is to prevent recidivism of DUI offenders. The program has three components; the hospital components, the morgue component, and the reflective essay component.
The hospital component usually takes place in a classroom setting located at a hospital where participants learn about the physical, emotional and social consequences of driving under the influence. Participants will also watch “instructional videos” reminiscent of the videos many of us watched in driver’s education courses. You know the videos; extremely graphic, gruesome, and disturbing depictions of DUI-caused accidents. Certainly not for the faint of heart, the videos show what could happen to participants if they continue to drink and drive. The hospital component may also include lectures from DUI victims, former substance addicts, and/or law enforcement officials.
The second component is the morgue component. The morgue component is usually taught by a county coroner and consists of course which, like the hospital component, covers the deadly consequences of drunk driving with a lecture and presentation of visual depictions of actual DUI-related fatal accidents as well as the actual bodies of DUI accident victims. This portion of the program also usually includes a time where participants are required share their own stories.
Lastly, the HAM program requires participants to write a reflective essay, usually at least 500 words in length, demonstrating how the hospital and morgue components have changed their lives and impacted their views on drinking and driving.
The court will give the defendant the information to register into a HAM program upon conviction.
No doubt participants’ intestinal fortitude will be tested throughout the HAM program. But ask yourself, especially after participating: Is a few disturbing hours of queasiness worse than other drunk driving consequences that the program emphasizes? Probably not.
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