My goal in representing clients charged with Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs (DUI) in Illinois is for the charge to be dismissed or for the client to be found not guilty of the charge. If that does not happen, a person who pleads guilty or is found guilty of DUI in Illinois is required to complete a Victim Impact Panel as part of the sentence.
Victim Impact Panels are produced by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) or the Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists (AAIM). MADD is a national organization founded in California in 1980 by a mother whose daughter was killed by an impaired driver. AAIM is a local organization founded in 1982 with a goal of changing laws in Illinois to better protect people who use Illinois roadways.
Victim Impact Panels are currently offered as live, in-person programs and online beginning in 2020 due to COVID-19 pandemic precautions. Both approved providers charge $50.00 to attend a Victim Impact Panel.
I recently completed the AAIM online Victim Impact Panel. Signing up for the online AAIM program is easy on the AAIM website, www.AAIM1.org. The agency monitoring your progress in completing your sentence (the Cook County Social Service Department in Cook County) provides a code needed for signup. Credit and debit cards are accepted as payment.
The AAIM program lasts approximately 45 minutes. There is a 10-question quiz at the end of the program. You must score seven correct out of 10 to pass the Victim Impact Panel and be issued a certificate. You can retake the quiz if you do not receive a score of at least seven. I scored eight out of 10. I was not told which questions I answered incorrectly. I recommend taking notes during the presentation to help you pass the quiz.
You will receive a certificate showing you successfully completed the Victim Impact Panel after completing the course. You must provide a copy of the certificate to the agency monitoring your progress to be sure you are credited with attending.
A board member from AAIM provided introductory comments. Then the program I viewed was divided into two parts. First, a driver involved in a fatal DUI accident described details in his life and the events of the day that led to the death six people who stopped to assist people involved in a minor traffic accident. The driver’s words were accompanied by video of depicting the accident scene and news reports of the accident and its impact on the families of those injured and killed. The driver described the nearly eight years spent in the Department of Corrections where the DUI accident occurred. The driver is now sober and has been since the date of the DUI accident. He is now married and has children. He currently works as a substance abuse counselor.
The second speaker was a married father of three children who lost his entire family after the VW bus he was driving was struck head on by an impaired driver who crossed the median. He talked about his family and the great day they had at Great America in Gurnee. He recalled his younger daughter was unable to ride any of the roller coasters because she was not tall enough. Finally, as they were heading towards the exit, they happened upon a roller coaster the daughter was tall enough to ride. He stayed with her to ride the roller coaster even though he and his family were tired. He lamented that his family would probably be alive if he was a mean father and did not allow his daughter to ride that roller coaster.
The father described the impact with the other vehicle and the other driver’s detached reaction to being involved in a collision. Photographs showed the mangled body of the father’s wife and youngest daughter. The father described and photographs showed his son lying on the bloodstained pavement. He described his son and older daughter gasping for their last breaths. Finally, he talked about being threatened by the driver that caused the fatal DUI accident after the driver completed his sentence in the Illinois Department of Corrections and was released from custody.
The anguish in the voices of the impaired driver and of the father who lost his family because of an impaired driver affected me. These first-person accounts of the effect impaired driving had on the lives of the people involved were indeed impactful. I know I will think twice about driving while impaired.
Contact Herzberg Law Firm if you are arrested for DUI in Illinois. Steven Herzberg will provide an aggressive defense of your DUI charges.