Defendants facing charges for DWIs may soon have to face their victims during an impact panel. Lawmakers are currently looking at a Missouri bill that requires offenders to come face to face with people whose lives they have permanently changed.
According to The Joplin Globe, House Bill 1488 is currently awaiting Sental approval. Test studies have shown that these panels have had success at reducing the rate of reoffenders. Rearrest rates of people previously charged with DUIs were significantly lower for those who attended the victim panels. This gives the state a cost effective way to reduce the number of intoxicated people driving on the road. According to officials, with costs of DUI in human misery and dollars considered, the potential benefits of largescale implementation of victim impact panel programs seem to be well worth the effort.
While these panels are not meant to replace penalties and sanctions, they would coincide with them and offer victims the opportunity to heal and gain closure. The goal is to help offenders understand that their choices have life altering consequences that can impact the lives of innocent people. Lawmakers want to reinforce that driving under the influence is an unnecessary choice that can have disastrous results. The bill is heavily supported by Mothers Against Drunk Driving and would help take steps towards the organization’s goal of “no more victims.”
For people who find themselves arrested for and charged with a DWI or DUI, it may be helpful to speak with an attorney. This can provide valuable insight into the laws that apply to their particular circumstance.