Program Type: Victim Impact Panel
Program Location: North Dakota
Lead Agency: Safe Communities Coalition of the Red River Valley (SCCRRV)
Partners: Coalition members include AAA North Dakota, Cass and Clay County Sherriff’s Offices, Fargo, Moorhead and West Fargo Police Departments, Cass County State’s Attorney’s Office, Concordia College, SafeKids Fargo/Moorhead, Prairie St. John’s (a treatment center), Hawley Municipal Liquors, Rick’s Bar, North Dakota State University, University of Minnesota Moorhead and East Central Judicial District Juvenile Court
The alcohol committee of the SCCRRV directly oversees the Victim Impact Panel program; members include Cass County Juvenile Court, Cass and Clay County Sherriff’s Offices, Hawley Municipal Liquors, Rick’s Bar, North Dakota State University, the University of Minnesota Moorhead, Region III Substance Abuse Prevention Program, Cass County State’s Attorney’s Office, Moorhead and West Fargo Police Departments
The Issue: Prevention
Program Target Population: Repeat Offenders

Program Description:

The Victim Impact Panel was created by the Safe Communities Coalition of the Red River Valley (SCCRRV) alcohol committee based on A How To Guide for Victim Impact Panels (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2001). The Panel seeks to reduce alcohol-impaired driving, alcohol-related traffic crashes, and alcohol-related traffic injuries and fatalities in Cass County, ND and Clay County, MN. Attendees of the panel in Fargo, ND are court-ordered first- and second-time DUI offenders from the region. The speakers are three victims who address a group of court-ordered DUI offenders. They share stories of the impact of their own injuries or the injuries or deaths of loved ones caused by drunk drivers. The purpose of the panel is to humanize the consequences of drunk driving in order to change attitudes and behaviors, deter future impaired driving, and reduce recidivism. Attendees are required to complete a reflective evaluation.

The SCCRRV conducts around 12 panels each year, with 1,000 participants annually.

Program Effectiveness:

Since 2003, the Victim Impact Panel has addressed over 7,000 DUI offenders. After listening to the speakers, 95% of program participants between January 2011 and June 2011 were convinced of the importance of not driving after drinking, 91% considered stopping or decreasing their alcohol consumption if they have to drive, and 96% realized the consequences of driving while under the influence.

Post-session evaluations have been favorable regarding the value and impact of the sessions and SCCRRV is preparing to conduct a recidivism study to gain substantive information on the effectiveness of the panel in deterring future driving while under the influence of alcohol.

Program Cost Effectiveness:

There are several factors that have led to the cost effectiveness of the Victim Impact Panel.

  1. Meeting space and A/V equipment are provided by the City of Fargo free of charge.
  2. Unpaid volunteers are utilized at the panel for logistics and registration.
  3. Attendee fees cover 100% of the program's costs.
  4. The Safe Communities Coordinator, who is employed by Fargo Cass Public Health, administers the Victim Impact Panel as part of her job duties.

Source of Funding:

  • Financed through participant (DUI offender) fees

 Factors to Consider When Replicating the Program:

  • Secure commitment from criminal justice stakeholders
  • Ensure continuity of the program with personnel changes in court administration and judges
  • General management of the program, such as coordination between DUI offenders and adjudicatory agencies and managing funds and evaluating outcomes

Formal Evaluation of Program:

Case Studies of Community-Based Self-Sufficient DWI Programs

For more information on this program, please contact:
Robyn Litke