Victim Impact Panel

Question: What is the VIP?

Answer: VIP stands for Victim Impact Panel. It refers to the “victims impact program” authorized as an optional condition of sentencing by NYS VTL 1193(1)(f). If you have been convicted of DWI or DWAI or one of the other types of drunk driving charges that exist in New York State, you will almost certainly be sentenced to attend one session of the Victim Impact Panel. Victim Impact Panels typically last between an hour-and-a-half and two hours. A VIP is a program “in which “presentations are made concerning the impact of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs to one or more persons who have been convicted of such offenses.” NYS VTL 1193(1)(f). Prosecutors often speak at the panels, as do actual victims of drunk drivers.

There are a few things that you should know about the Victim Impact Panel.

First, it's very important to know that Victim Impact Panels are run differently in each county. The rules that apply for one Victim Impact Panel may not apply to a different Impact Panel. Whatever the rules may be, you need to follow them closely.

For example: In Monroe County, persons sentenced to a VIP need to register for the Victim Impact Panel a week in advance of the day of the Panel. In Monroe County, you cannot show up at a Panel, pay your entry fee, and attend. That is not true of all other counties. Some counties allow you to show up and pay. You need to look at the instructions given to you at court very carefully to determine if you need to take action before the scheduled Victim Impact Panel date.

Second, before entering a VIP, you will be expected to give a breath sample to test for alcohol. If your breath screens positive for alcohol, you will not be admitted. The Panel coordinator will notify the sentencing judge that you arrived, screened positive for alcohol, and were denied entry. That is a violation of your conditional discharge, and will result in the judge resentencing you. The judge may order you to go back on a different date, or the judge may order you confined to the county jail. It is very important that you not drink any alcohol on the day you are scheduled to attend the VIP.

Third, you should know that a Victim Impact Panel cannot be rescheduled by a defendant or a person convicted of DWI who misses their date. If you miss a Victim Impact Panel, that is a violation of a conditional discharge and can carry serious sanctions above and beyond an order to take the Victim Impact Panel again. Most judges, especially if they are given advance notice that you cannot make a specific Victim Impact Panel date, will happily reschedule your date if your attorney makes that request. (In Livingston County, you or your attorney need to contact the VIP coordinator at the Sheriff’s Office for a new date.) However, under no circumstance should a person convicted of DWI ever skip a Victim Impact Panel or just not show up. It's a condition of sentencing that, if violated, could result in more serious sanctions, up to and including incarceration.

If you have further questions about the VIP, call Jeannie D. Michalski today.