Victims’ Impact Panel of Oklahoma held a session at Tulsa Community College’s West Campus auditorium on March 8.
Victims’ Impact Panel, or VIP, is a non-profit program “aimed at combating drunk driving and driving under the influence of other drugs.” VIP has a very unique take on anti-drunk driving programs, with speakers all telling their own personal stories of how drunk driving situations have shaped their lives. The program has three speakers at each presentation, all of which tell a different perspective: one from a victim, one from a first-responder, and one from an offender or a representative for them.
The panel that spoke at West consisted of Jessie Romero, who lost two close friends and her boyfriend in a drunk-driving accident, Victor Porter, who was a police officer for more than 20 years and arrived at the scene of his brother’s drunk driving accident and Doc Livingston, whose son struck a bicycle rider while driving drunk. All three told their stories to a crowd of almost 50 attendants and spoke to some after their presentation.
Founded in 1989 by Janella Tears, it is “Oklahoma’s original victim impact panel.” DUI offenders are required to attend an impact panel and VIP has been recognized by the court system for more than 23 years.
DUI offenders are not the only audience. VIP attends high schools and colleges and has 55 programs throughout Oklahoma, speaking to varying group sizes from “as small as 30” to “as large as 2,000” people.
Some of those smaller groups are the aforementioned DUI classes, and VIP finds a high rate of success in those. Per VIP’s website, the Oklahoma Supreme Court Network (OSCN) was presented data which showed that “there was an 84 percent success rate since the year 2000,” meaning 84 percent of offenders who attended a VIP presentation had not been re-arrested on a DUI charge.
Aside from informing young people and helping give a wake-up call to DUI offenders, VIP provides a healing experience to those who speak on the panels. Speakers share how they feel and how their experiences with drunk driving changed them, allow them to genuinely express the high importance of the message they are trying to send. The VIP website says that the program is a “win/win” for everyone involved. “Offenders are reformed through awareness; young people are prevented from making dangerous choices; and healing is promoted in the panelists who participate.”
For more information, the Victims’ Impact Panel of Oklahoma in Tulsa can be contacted through phone or email at 918-960-3001 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit their website at www.VIPofOK.com.