Victim Impact Panel
In collaboration with Tompkins County Court, the District Attorney's Office, Stop DWI, substance abuse service providers and this department, a Victim Impact panel was developed in 2002 as a resource to the courts for those offenders convicted of Driving While Intoxicated. The Victim Impact Panel is made up of volunteers who have lost a loved one to a drunk driver and are willing to speak about the trauma and life altering experience this caused them, their family and the community. Any court in Tompkins County can refer a convicted DWI offender to attend the panel for the purpose of hearing first hand the impact and consequences of drinking and driving behavior. It is hoped that by attending the panel, offenders are able to internalize that drinking and driving is not a victimless crime and that it can cause irreparable harm to innocent people. An Emergency Department nurse also describes the effects of a drunk driving motor vehicle crash. Finally, offenders hear a brief presentation from a local substance abuse treatment agency and learn where they can obtain services in the community.
Offenders are required to complete an evaluation form at the end of the panel. The following is a sampling of the comments received:
- “Put a human face to DWI accidents”
- “I now know what a victim goes through.”
- “It gave me an image that will never leave my mind..."
- “It was a truly sobering experience causing me to reflect upon my actions.” -
- “It put faces on the people affected and made me see that it is a lifelong consequence.”
This department is always seeking individuals/victims who are willing to be a speaker at the panel. We recognize the emotional expense for a speaker to be part of the panel and share the tragedy endured at the hands of a drunk driver. While it is an extremely emotional presentation for the speakers, it can also be worthwhile if a victim’s personal story reaches even one person and prevents that person from drinking and driving again.
Anyone who has lost a loved one or has been injured by a drunk driver and who is interested in becoming a panelist should call the Tompkins County Probation Department at 274-5380 for more information.