DUI/DWI Victim Impact Panels
Victim Impact Panels (VIPs) involve friends, relatives or victims
themselves telling a group of DUI/DWI offenders the tragic outcomes
of an alcohol-related traffic accident. A session is typically begun,
moderated and ended by a low enforcement officer. The event is highly
emotional and the main goal is to prevent offenders from driving
again when impaired by alcohol. As Mothers Against Drunk Drivers
explains, “The concept of the VIP is not for MADD to point
fingers or to place blame, rather it is our effort to raise awareness
and change the thinking and behavior of those present” 1.
Offenders sometimes report that they will never again drive while
impaired by alcohol.
Are Victim Impact Panels effective in actually reducing DUI/DWI?
Apparently not, according to research. And there’s some evidence
that in some cases they may even be counter-productive... worse
than doing nothing.
To learn what really works and doesn‘t to prevent drunk driving,
visit Drinking and Driving.
But in spite of their apparent failure, Victim Impact Panels have
proven very effective in raising money for Mothers Against Drunk
driving (MADD), which has operated them for many years. Judges frequently
require attendance at a Victim Impact Panel as part of probation
when they convict drivers for DUI/DWI. Because MADD determines the
amount of the required “contribution,” Victim Impact
Panels generate large sums of cash for the organization.
To learn more, visit Mothers
Against Drunk Driving.
- 1. MADD. Victim Impact Panels: How
They Help. Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Orange County Chapter.
See http://www.maddorangecounty.org/vippanels.htm). Goals of Victim
Impact Panels have been identified as
- Helping DUI/DWI offenders understand the impact of their decisions
on victims and communities.
- Providing victims of alcohol-related traffic accidents with
a structured, positive outlet to share their personal experiences
and to educate offenders, justice professionals, and others about
the physical, emotional, and financial consequences of DUI/DWI.
- Building partnerships among DUI/DWI victim service providers
and justice agencies that can raise the individual and community
awareness of the short- and long-term impacts of drunk driving.
- Allen, J. M. The Construction and Transformation of the Victim
Identity in Victim Impact Panels. Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation,
Southern Illinois University, 2003. In addition to their ineffectiveness
in reducing DUI/DWI, Victim Impact Panels appear to be of limited
value to the victims and loved ones who make presentations. However,
Mothers Against Drunk Driving indicates that “our experience
with this program has shown that the Panel can be very therapeutic
for the Panelists. Some come to the Panels even if they are not
scheduled to speak to provide support to other Panelists. The Panel
has become a way for some to work through their grief; for many
it is one of the few places where they can talk about their loss.
Many times their friends and family are tired of hearing about it.
For those who have re-married, there are instances where the new
spouse doesn't wish to hear about the former spouse and/or children.
Thus, the panel becomes an important pressure release valve.”
MADD. Victim Impact Panels: How They Help. Mothers Against Drunk
Driving, Orange County Chapter. See http://www.maddorangecounty.org/vippanels.htm).
- Baca, J.C., et al. Victim impact panels: Do they impact drunk drivers?
A follow-up of female and male, first-time and repeat offenders.
Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 2001, 62(5), 615.
This is a methodologically strong study of the effectiveness of
Victim Impact Panels.
- Badovinac, K. The effects of victim impact panels on attitudes
and intentions regarding impaired driving. J. Alcohol Drug Education.
39 (3): 113-118, 1994.
Fors, S. and Rojek, D. DUI offenders' reactions to a required victim
impact panel intervention, Athens, GA: University of Georgia, 1997,
- Fors, S., and Rojek, D. The effect of Victim Impact Panels on DUI/DWI
rearrest rates: A twelve-month follow-up. Journal of Studies
on Alcohol, 1999, 60(4), 514.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Victims
Impact Panel (VIP) of Oklahoma. In: Traffic Safety Digest: A Compendium
of Innovative State and Community Traffic Safety Projects, winter
- O'Laughlin, L.H. Drunk Driving: The Effects of the Clackamas County
DUI Victim Impact Panel on Recidivism Rates, Oregon City, OR: Clackamas
County Chapter, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), 1990.
- Polacsek, M., et al. MADD victim impact panels and stages-of-change
in drunk-driving prevention. Journal of Studies on Alcohol,
2001, 62(3), 344. This is another methodologically sophisticated
test of Victim Impact Panels.
- Rao, N., Woodall, W., Rogers, E, Kang, N., Polascek, M. and Way,
P. Effects of Mothers Against Drunk Driving's (MADD's) victim impact
panels on first-time DWI offenders: Some initial results. Paper
presented at the annual meeting of the International Communication
Association, Albuquerque, NM, May 1995.
- Sheppard, M.A. and Stoveken, C.A. Convicted impaired drivers' knowledge
about alcohol: Relevance for program development. Journal of
Alcohol and Drug Education. 38 (2): 113-122, 1993.
- Shinar, D. and Compton, R.P. Victim Impact Panels: Their impact
on DWI recidivism. Alcohol Drugs Driving. 11: 73-87, 1995.