Many persons convicted of operating while impaired (OWI), or operating under the influence are sentenced to a Victim Impact Panel. I am often asked what is a Victim Impact Panel by clients.
Victim Impact Panels are presentations that occur throughout the United States, which are sponsored by MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving). MADD is essentially a lobbyist group which tries to influence Judges and legislatures to impose harsh sentences for alcohol or substance related driving offenses. As a result of MADD, Victim Impact Panels are often a required condition of probation for an individual convicted of an alcohol or drug related driving offense.
At a Victim Impact Panel, the survivors and the family members of victims of alcohol and drug related accidents speak about their experiences in order for offenders and persons in the community can see and hear about the tragic circumstances with the hope that the presentation will deter their behavior from repeating itself. There is no interaction between the persons speaking and the offenders. There may be a program fee imposed for persons that are not indigent that are ordered to participate in a Victim Impact Panel.