Drunk Driving victims suffer some of the longest lasting effects after an accident. Car accidents can have long-lasting effects on all parties involved. But it is especially true for drunk driving victims who were not at fault for the accident. When someone chooses to drink and drive, he or she is taking other people’s lives into their hands. They make a reckless choice that can harm even the safest of sober drivers. The drunk driving problem in Arizona is currently being attacked on many levels. These levels include efforts at preventing those who are convicted of one DUI from being a repeat offender.
Combating Recidivism and Helping Drunk Driving Victims Heal
One of the tools that Arizona lawmakers use is victim impact panels. It is used to both help victims heal and to prevent drunk drivers from further incidents. The Maricopa County Probation Department, in cooperation with local chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, created the impact panel program. They created the educational program helped the convicted people of drunk driving. The panel also helps victims navigate through the healing process by providing them with an outlet to share their grief and pain in a safe environment.
During a panel session, a group of three to four victims of drunk drivers talked about the accidents. They said they or their loved ones were the part in and what effect the accidents had on their lives. The offender that was at fault for their particular accidents is not present at their panels. So victims can feel safe telling their story as an educational tool. This would help other offenders realize the full impact of their decision to drive under the influence. Some panels also allow for a question and answer period for offenders at the end of the session. This allows offenders to speak with a MADD representative.
Effectiveness of Panels
While some studies have shown that victim impact panels may not lead to actual decreases in future drunk driving. They do have some value to society, especially for victims. Victim impact panels can be part of an effective solution if they work combining with other efforts to reduce recidivism, such as specialized DWI/DUI courts, automatic license revocation, impounding or confiscating license plates, and ignition interlock systems.
By taking a multi-faceted approach to the problem of drunk driving and including victims as part of the solution, lawmakers can continue to fight in a way that addresses the many reasons people choose to drink and drive. Through the use of such panels, victims are provided not only an outlet for their emotional pain, but also a safe environment in which they can play a larger role in the criminal justice system. Both of these can help a victim begin to put the pieces of their lives back together after becoming a part in a drunk driving accident.
If you or a loved one is a part of a car accident because of someone else’s reckless decision to drink and drive, the professionals at the Thompson Law Firm, PLLC can help. One call and we can answer any questions you may have about the steps you can take to recover after an accident.