Judges and prosecutors have a lot of options when putting together the terms of a probation agreement or plea deal. When it comes to DUI probation, some of the most common aspects of probation agreements include DUI classes, ignition interlock devices and participation in a Mothers Against Drunk Driving Victim Impact Panel (MADD VIP) session.
What is the MADD VIP?
A victim impact panel is a program put on by the anti-drunk driving association known as the Mothers Against Drunk Driving. These panels feature speakers that have been victimized by impaired drivers with the goal of personalizing the potential negative consequences of driving while drunk or high.
Speakers in these programs may have been in a drunk driving crash themselves or may be family members or friends of people who were killed or severely injured in a drunk driving accident. These people volunteer to share their very personal stories in the MADD VIP with the hopes that the attendees will empathize with them and then modify their thinking and behavior so they avoid driving drunk or high again in the future. While MADD says that the speakers will not blame or judge but simply tell their stories, the realities is that these people have been severely hurt by drunk drivers and some cannot help but be upset at the attendees of these sessions.
Aside from personal stories, you may also be required to view visual component such as a slideshow or video with shocking images from drunk driving crashes. A law enforcement agent may also speak about the dangers of driving under the influence.
The Ins-and-Outs of Mothers Against Drunk Driving VIP Sessions
These programs are held once a month in both English and Spanish at every court house in San Diego County. While most DUI offenders in North County will probably choose to attend a session in Vista, they could also choose to take a course in El Cajon, Chula Vista or central San Diego if it is easier for them to attend. These panels are typically full so register online well in advance so you don’t miss the deadline imposed the court
MADD also offers online Victim Impact Panels, but not every jurisdiction allows for this option. It is worth noting that while the programs have been put on temporary hold for the coronavirus, more courts may start allowing offenders to attend online sessions.
Each session lasts a few hours and unlike the DUI classes you may be required to take as part of your probation, you will only need to attend one MADD panel. Just like all aspects of DUI probation, there is a fee for this program and in this case it is $30 although this fee is technically an optional donation to MADD, so you can choose to attend for free if you wish.
What Happens if I Skip the MADD VIP Part of My Probation?
If you skip the MADD program when required to do so under your probation terms, you will be considered to have violated your probation, which means you could face additional penalties including jail time and fines. While you can fight probation violations, it’s generally going to be a lot easier and cheaper to simply attend a Mothers Against Drunk Driving panel than risk violating your probation.
That being said, sometimes these sessions can fill up and while it’s best to get there early, if your attorney can show that you made a good faith effort to attend a MADD program at a probation hearing, you will probably not receive any additional penalties.
If you have any questions about the MADD VIP probation requirement, DUI lawyer Peter M. Liss can help. Please call (760) 643-4050 to schedule a free initial consultation.