When someone is charged with a California DUI, it is not uncommon for the prosecutor to offer MADD’s Victim Impact Panel (VIP) as part of the plea deal. While it may be possible to reduce the offer so that it doesn’t include the VIP, it is important for people who have been charged with a California DUI to understand what the VIP is.
According to Mother Against Drunk Driving (MADD), one of their main goals is to prevent recidivism of DUI offenses. To accomplish this, MADD provides one-day presentations where convicted DUI offenders can hear the stories of people whose lives have been negatively affected by drunk driving. The speakers are usually victims of DUI-related collisions or relatives of those who were killed as the result of DUI-related collisions.
Some of my clients have expressed concern about the size of the VIP 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.
While panels are conducted different in each county, VIP is generally offered at different times and locations throughout any given month. Registration is usually required and generally costs about $25 to $35 and cash or money order is usually required. Take your registration documents and photo identification with you to the location.
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. Expect the panel to last at least an hour.
Once the class is finished, they will provide proof of completion certificate. The proof of completion will be due back to court, either in the courtroom or the courthouse cashier’s office, on a date given by the judge.