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Attorneys Stephen G. Fabian Jr. and Brian P. Young

Victims’ impact panels may become mandatory for DUIs

On Behalf of | Jun 1, 2020 | DUI - Drunk Driving |

A new bill in Oklahoma aims to reduce the number of repeat DUI offenders by requiring everyone who is convicted to attend victims’ impact panels. House Bill 2877 was passed by the Oklahoma Senate with a bipartisan vote of 31 to 13. If Governor Stitt signs it, it will become law in the state.

Under the legislation, all DUI offenders would be required to attend victims’ impact panels. These panels force people who are convicted of DUIs to meet face-to-face with the families of people who have been killed by drunk drivers. Studies have shown that attendance at victims’ impact panels is 90% effective in reducing the rate of repeat DUI offenses.

The law would require victim impact panels to be certified by the state. The state would collect data and information from each victims’ impact panel to ensure that it is operating under the state’s guidelines. The bill would also standardize sentencing for all DUI offenders in Oklahoma. Finally, the bill would establish a flat fee of $65 for attending victims’ impact panels instead of having a sliding scale fee as the existing panels currently have. The state says that this would make it easier for victims’ impact panels to operate in more rural areas so that offenders are not forced to drive a significant distance to attend a panel in a larger city.

People who are facing charges of driving drunk might benefit from consulting with experienced DUI defense lawyers. Drunk driving charges do not mean that a defendant will be found guilty. An attorney might carefully analyze the circumstances and facts of what happened to identify any problems that exist with how the police officers investigated the case. The lawyer may file evidentiary motions to challenge the admissibility of certain types of evidence and try to secure a better outcome for his or her client.