Driving Under the Influence Victims Panel
PurposeThe Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol (DUI) Victims Panel is a very informative and powerful tool to make people think seriously about and be confronted by the actual consequences of DUI. District Court Judge David S. Admire and a citizen, Shirley Anderson, started the first DUI Victims Panel in Redmond, Washington. Judge Admire believed that the DUI offenders coming before him did not realize the seriousness of the possible consequences of drunk driving. Shirley Anderson knew the worst possible consequences, her son having been killed by a drunk driver.
Together, they organized the first DUI Victims Panel. DUI offenders, and others, who may benefit, were required to attend as a condition of their sentence. The use of this program has spread across Washington State and the United States. DUI Victim Panels are a powerful educational tool. By personalizing for the offender the possible consequences of DUI, the offense and the penalties it carries are set in proper perspective. In theory, DUI offenders who are confronted with this awesome information will form a lasting impression of the seriousness of the offense, and be less likely in the future to drink and drive. Another interesting aspect of DUI Victim Panels is that they make one more aware of the different kinds of DUI victims. Most of us mistakenly think of DUI victims as just those people who, through no fault of their own, are injured or killed in an accident caused by an impaired driver.
Certainly those people are victims, but there are at least 2 other common types of DUI victims: partial victims and self-victims. Partial DUI victims are almost always passengers of impaired drivers. They are partially responsible for their injuries because they chose to entrust their safety to a drunk driver. Self DUI victims, on the other hand, are DUI offenders. Self-victims are entirely to blame for the injuries they and other people incur in a drunk driving accident. Many self victims spend years in prison, live ruined lives plagued by disabling and humiliating injuries, and suffer permanent stigma and shame for having injured or killed someone else. DUI victims of all types have immensely powerful stories to tell. Do victim panels work? Do they reduce DUI rates and recidivism? One study conducted in Clackamas County, Oregon, concluded that the creation of a victims impact panel program there reduced recidivism among first time offenders by almost forty percent! Drunk drivers are naturally afraid that they might injure or kill someone, but tend to minimize the severity of impaired driving. DUI Victims Panels powerfully convey the terrible risks of impaired driving. Education of this sort for DUI offenders is certain to lower DUI rates.