One of my clients was ordered to attend a Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Victim Impact Panel as part of his DUI sentence. He asked me what it was and what to expect. After explaining it to him, I thought it was probably a question that many people have as attendance at “VIP” meetings are becoming a popular term of DUI probation.
One of MADD’s main purposes is to prevent recidivism of DUI offenders. One of the ways they attempt to accomplish this is by providing conferences where convicted DUI offenders can hear the stories of people whose lives have negatively been affected drunk driving. Many of the speakers are often relatives of victims who have been seriously injured or killed by a drunk driver. Some of the speakers may be victims who have been injured, themselves.
After giving my client the basics about what it was, he expressed concern about the size of the audience. My guess is because he was concerned about being singled out or being blamed and/or judged by panel members. Generally, the audiences are fairly large. Panel members are not there to place blame or judgment. They simply want to share their stories so that audience members think twice about getting behind the wheel if they are drunk. While interaction and participation is usually not required, audience member are sometimes given the opportunity to ask questions of the speakers after the presentation is over.
Although panels are conducted different in each county, VIP is generally offered at different times throughout any given month. Expect the panel to last at least an hour. Registration is usually required and generally costs around $20-$25. Get there early because many locations refuse late entry and if you miss a class without cancelling at least 24 hours in advance, they will charge for the missed class and you will still have to pay for a second registration. Take your registration documents and photo identification with you to the location. Once the class is finished, they will provide proof of attendance to submit to the court.
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