The Use of Victim Impact Panels and Driving Classes for DUI Convictions


In an effort to help DUI offenders understand the consequences of their actions, most states have enacted certain procedures aimed at illustrating the potential harm of driving under the influence. While each state has a slightly different approach, the majority of court systems use victim impact panels and driving classes as their primary means for educating DUI offenders. Several studies have shown that both of these measures have a significant impact on the students and have reduced drunk driving over the years.


Definition of Victim Impact Panel


The Victim Impact Panel was first put into use by the group Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) in 1982. This is a lecture that typically lasts one hour up to 90 minutes at a time. The panel usually meets at least once a month and sometimes twice and they are held in most large cities across the country. Each lecture will be different in that some of the speakers may be the actual victim of a drunk driving accident. Other speakers may be a relative or friend of a person that died in a DUI accident. And still others may be DUI offenders that were involved in a fatal car crash. In all of these meetings the goal is clear: the survivors wish to warn other people about the possible dangers involved when a person chooses to drink and drive.


Criteria for Putting Victim Impact Panel to Use


There are no clear cut rules for using the Victim Impact Panel. Some judges order any and every DUI offender to attend a local meeting as a form of their punishment. At times a prosecutor may request the court to order the meeting. And some times a defending DUI attorney will suggest to their client that they voluntary attend one of the meetings. Defense attorneys feel that the action of their client freely attending one of the meetings shows not only remorse by the defendant but also that they realize the severity of the situation and are taking steps to mend their ways. Most of the panel meetings charge a fee ranging from $15 up to $65 for attendance.


Definition of DUI Driving School


Basically speaking the school is designed to teach its students about the dangers of driving under the influence of either alcohol or drugs. By warning people of the risky consequences the school is promoting safer alternatives in the interest of the local community. Instructors will show students how to avoid DUI and DWI but also try to reduce or eliminate the use of alcohol or drugs completely through positive reinforcement.


Purpose of DUI Driving School


The majority of states will usually suspend the driver's license of anyone that has been convicted of driving under the influence. In order to have the license reinstated the person will need to complete an approved DUI driving school program. While the term “school” usually brings to mind various tests and different possible grades on assignments, this is not the case. Students either pass or fail the driving school with no need for an “A” to “F” type of system.


Benefits of the School


Most people seem to think that the driving school is a formality. However, it is beneficial for all that attend the classes. Most of the driving lessons are geared towards defensive driving and are designed to make the student a better overall driver. In addition to being a requirement towards getting a driving license reinstated it also helps to slightly lower insurance rates for drivers.


Time Requirement, Fees, and Possible Penalties


The DUI and DWI driving schools last anywhere from a couple of hours to around 45 hours depending on the state as well as the judge. Most of the time the judge will set a deadline to complete the class. If the deadline is not met the license may suspended for a longer period of time or revoked completely. Students will usually have to pay a fee of some type to enroll and finish the class. Thanks to the internet many schools have started offering an online version of their program. The DUI attorney handling your case should be able to provide the proper contact information for available classes in your area.



By Richard Jacobs

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