Legislation would require DUI offenders to participate in a Victim Impact Panel
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. –Rep. Mike Kelley wants DUI offenders to better understand the lasting and long-term effects of driving while impaired. He recently filed legislation to create Toby’s Law, which would require individuals guilty of a DUI offense to participate in a mandatory Victim Impact Panel.
HB 1436 would require any person who has pled guilty or been found guilty of driving while intoxicated to complete a victim impact program approved by the court. Kelley said Victim Impact Panels are powerful tools to create an additional level of empathy and understanding with offenders that will hopefully change their thinking and behavior, and prevent future offenses from occurring.
Toby’s Law is named in memory of Tobias Olsen, who was killed along with his mother, Jean Olsen, by a drunk driver. Toby’s sister, who now works in Kelley’s office, and father survived the crash. Kelley said his assistant, Johanna Henry, has become a strong advocate for the use of impact panels. He noted that she was instrumental in helping him to understand the importance of making such panels mandatory for DUI offenders.
“The panels are not only a great way to help offenders make better decisions, but also an effective method for victims to heal and share their stories. I sincerely believe they can play a pivotal role in preventing tragedies like the one suffered by Toby and his family,” said Kelley, R-Lamar.
Kelley went on to point out that impact panels are typically available through various organizations such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving. He said some college campuses and townships also conduct the panels, which often consist of victims that have been affected by a drunk driver, police officers, and ambulance teams or nurses.