When an individual is convicted of Driving Under the Influence or enters into a Deferred Prosecution the courts will require attendance of a DUI Victim Impact Panel. This is not a mandatory requirement; however every judge imposes this sanction. RCW 46.61.5152.
The Victim Impact Panel allows individuals to hear the life changing stories of those hurt by a drunk driver. Speakers will also include relatives or loved ones of innocent victims that were killed by a drunk driver. A Victim Impact Panel features three or four speakers and the meeting can last for 90 minutes to two hours. The Victim Impact Panel is offered across the United States. Simply enter ” Victim Impact Panel ” and your home state in a Google web search to find a meeting location.
What is a Victim Impact Panel?
The purpose of the Victim Impact Panel is to humanize the dangers of DUI. Washington State annually averages 46,000 DUI arrests. Approximately, 13,500 people die a year in the United States from a drunk driver. DUI arrests clearly out number the amount of DUI related deaths. However, each DUI arrest could have potentially resulted in a death. The Victim Panel is a necessary educational tool in DUI prevention.
An experienced DUI defense attorney will instruct their client to attend a Victim Impact Panel while their DUI case is pending. Attending a Victim Impact Panel before it is required by the court demonstrates to a prosecuting attorney that the defendant is taking responsibility and is educating themselves about the dangers of drunk driving. Judges also appreciate the defendant’s efforts when proof of attendance is provided before a judge requires attendance.
Support Mandatory Attendance for all Citizens
Washington State DUI supports a requirement that every driver license in Washington State be required to attend a Victim Impact Panel with every driver license renewal. Being reminded about the dangers of drunk driving every five years seems quite reasonable for maintaining the privilege to drive.