DWI Punishment–The Victim Impact Panel by Bo Kalabus

You just took a conviction for DWI–either you plead guilty or you went to trial and unfortunately, the case was lost. You are lucky though, you are not going to jail, but you are being placed on probation. As part of the probation, you will discover that you have to pay a fine, pay court costs, make a small donation to your local crime stoppers fund-around $25-$30, take a DWI education class, go through a substance abuse evaluation, depending on the facts of your case perhaps a deep lung device will be required to be placed on your vehicle, and take a victim impact panel class (VIP). In my practice I get a lot of questions regarding the VIP, in short what the heck is it?

The VIP is an awareness program for drivers that have been convicted of DWI. Anyone can attend the VIP, but it is mandatory for those who have been convicted of DWI. The Panel is a presentation by those who have lost family members or friends to drunk/intoxicated drivers. The presentation is not supposed to be confrontational or judgmental in nature. However, the class is a reality kick in the stomach to those attending as the panel presenters relate how their own lives have been changed forever by the actions of drunk drivers. The panel focuses on real life stories of trauma, emotional/physical suffering/pain, financial loss, anger, and frustration–emotions commonly experienced by innocent victims following an alcohol or drug related vehicle wreck.

The class serves two missions: 1) it benefits the attendees in that it gives them a moment of pause to consider the severe consequences of driving while intoxicated and may be the first step to recognizing a possible addiction the person may have and getting help; and 2) it benefits the victims in that telling their stories and sharing their stories may help their healing process and hopefully experience something positive from their devastating experience.

The VIP takes about 2.5 hours to complete and costs about $30.


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