A Missouri lawmaker has introduced a bill that would require individuals who have been convicted of driving while under the influence to attend victim impact panels. This type of panel is made up of people who have suffered injuries or lost loved ones in drunk driving accidents, and the purpose is to drive home the potential consequences of getting behind the wheel after consuming alcohol or taking drugs. The bill was introduced in December 2015, and a House committee reviewed the proposed law on Feb. 10. The representative who sponsored the bill says that he hopes for a speedy approval.
The bill is named after a 17-year-old boy who was killed along with his mother in a 2007 drunk driving accident. The boy’s sister now works as an assistant in Rep. Mike Kelley’s office, and Kelley says that it was her support of victim impact panels that led him to propose Tobi’s Law.
If the measure is passed, those convicted of driving while intoxicated would be required to learn about both the short and long-term effects of impaired driving. In addition to hearing from people who have suffered loss at the hands of a drunk driver, participants will be shown photographs of drunk driving accidents and the road users who were injured or killed in them.
In addition to possibly being required to attend a victim impact panel, motorists convicted of drunk driving offenses in Missouri face fines, potential incarceration and the loss of their driving privileges. While the penalties for driving drunk in Missouri can be severe, securing a conviction is sometimes challenging for prosecutors. Most DUI cases hinge on the results of breath or blood tests, which are often challenged by criminal defense attorneys in certain situations.