Alcohol Education Guide
to Reducing Harmful Drinking

Victim Impact Panels (VIPs)



Implementer: Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD)


Program Overview: Victim Impact Panels (VIPs) were introduced by MADD in 1982 and have since spread throughout the United States in an attempt to reduce drunk driving. The objective of a VIP is to expose driving under the influence (DUI) offenders to the pain and suffering caused by drunk driving without necessarily condemning the DUI offender.

Program Design: The VIP panel consists of four or five victims of drink driving, each of whom offered a short description of how a drink driver impacted their lives and the lives of family members. The DUI offenders were not berated or harangued by the panelists; each VIP presenter simply told his or her story of personal suffering.

Evaluation: The VIP group in this study (n=404) consisted of residents of Clarke County, Georgia. All persons who were convicted of a drink driving offense were required by the sentencing judge to attend a VIP program. VIP sessions were held once a month in the county commission chambers, with a maximum of 75 offenders in attendance, and were 60 to 90 minutes in length.

-A comparison group (n=430) was selected from Clarke County DUI offenders in the year prior to the implementation of the VIP program.

All subjects were followed for exactly five years. Criminal record files and the driving history files were searched for DUI offenses using National Crime Information Center computer records.

Key findings: The overall findings suggest that VIPs may reduce DUI recidivism. At five-year follow-up, those who participated in the VIP program were much less likely to become DUI recidivists than those who did not attend a VIP session: 33.5% of the comparison group and 15.8% of the VIP group were rearrested for DUI offenses over the five-year period.

-The VIPs are associated with a 55.7% overall decrease in the hazard of rearrest; the VIP effect is strong in the first two years but then wanes dramatically.

Program Website: http://www.madd.org/


Rojek, D.G., Coverdill, J.E., & Fors, S.W. (2003). The effect of victim impact panels on DUI re-arrest rates: a five-year follow-up. Criminology, 41(4), 1319-1340.

Fors, S.W. & Rojek, D.G. (1999). The effect of victim impact panels on DUI/DWI re-arrest rates: a twelve-month follow-up. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 60(4), 514-520.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). (1989). The effect of the Washington County DUI Victim Impact Panel on recidivism rates. Washington, OR: Washington County MADD Chapter.

O’Laughlin, L.H. (1990). Drunk driving: the effects of the Clackamas County DUI Victim Impact Panel on recidivism rate. Oregon City, OR: Clackamas County MADD Chapter.

Badovinac, K. (1994). The effects of victim impact panels on attitudes and intentions regarding impaired driving. Journal of Alcohol Drug Education, 39(3), 113-118.

Sprang, G. (1998). Victim impact panels: an examination of the effectiveness of this program lowering recidivism and changing offenders’ attitudes about drinking and driving. Journal of Social Service Research, 22(3), 73-84.

Shinar, D. and Compton, R.P. (1995). Victim impact panels: their impact on DWI recidivism. Alcohol Drugs and Driving, 11(1), 73-87.

C’de Baca, J., Lapham, S., Paine, S., & Skipper, B. (2000). Victim impact panels: who is sentenced to attend? Does attendance affect recidivism of first-time DWI offenders? Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 24(9), 1420-1426.

Polacsek, M., Rogers, E., Woodall, G., Delaney, H., Wheeler, D., & Rao, N. (2001). MADD Victim Impact Panels and stages-of-change in drunk-driving prevention. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 62, 344-350.

Rao, N. Woodall, W., Rogers, E., Kang, N., Polacsek, M. & Way, P. (1995). Effects of Mothers Against Drunk Driving’s (MADD’s) victim impact panels on first-time DWI offenders: some initial results. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Communication Association, Albuquerque, NM, May 1995.

Wheeler, D.R., Rogers, E.M., Tonigan, J.S., & Woodall, W.G. (2004). Effectiveness of customized Victim Impact Panels on first-time DWI offender inmates. Accident Analysis & Prevention36(1), 29-35.

Target Audience: Drink driving offenders
Issues: Drinking and Driving
Setting: Remedial Drink Driving Programs
Approach: Community or Environmental
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