Drunk driving victims suffer some of the longest-lasting effects recovering after a car accident. But the effects can be even more impactful 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.
One of the tools that Arizona lawmakers use is victim impact panels. They are used to both help victims heal and prevent drunk drivers from causing future 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 to help people convicted 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 talk about the accidents. They share how they or their loved ones were involved and what impact recovering after a car accident has had on their lives. The offender that was at fault for their particular accidents is not present at their panels. Therefore, 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.
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 in combination 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 multifaceted 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 being involved 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 can help. One call and we can answer any questions you may have about the steps you can take for recovering after a car accident.
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