RENO, Nev.– “You never know if you saved a life,” Christine Adams said. “You just keep hoping and praying the more you talk about it the more it sinks in with people.”
As an administrator and Victim Impact Panel coordinator for the Northern Nevada DUI Task Force, Adams works with her peers in the task force to bring awareness to more people about the impacts of drunk driving behavior. The task force helps drunk-driving victims and their families in northern Nevada through holding the Victim Impact Panel.
Held monthly at six different northern Nevada locations, the panel offers victims the opportunity to tell their stories to others, including some DUI offenders, who are court-ordered to attend.
These DUI offenders pay a fee of $40, which goes toward funding the task force.
“What we want to show the offenders . . . are the innocent victims of drunk-driving crashes in the hopes that they will not re-offend,” said Laurel Stadler, the rural coordinator for the task force. “It’s very impactful and very emotional.”
The Victim Impact Panel not only helps the DUI offenders to improve themselves after their accident, but it also helps the victims who choose to speak publicly about their experiences and struggles.
“It has been shown through studies that speaking on an impact panel is part of the healing process for victims. . . .” Stadler said.
For the victims who volunteer to speak at a VIP, the task force puts him or her through an intake procedure. Stadler said the task force does this to ensure that the speaker is emotionally prepared to speak about their accident in front of more than 200 people.
“They don’t have to be professional speakers, they just have to speak from the heart and give a heartfelt presentation,” Stadler said.
Through its Victim Impact Panels, the task force aims to enforce its three main missions: stopping drunk driving, supporting victims of drunk-driving accidents, and preventing underage drinking.
The monthly Victim Impact Panels necessitate large amounts of coordination between the task force’s members.
The Northern Nevada DUI Task Force consists of many organizations such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. A total of 14 groups form the coalition that makes up the task force.
“It’s a fantastic organization. Almost everybody who works for them . . . volunteers their time. They’re amazing people,” Adams said.