The DUI Victim Center of Kansas provides services to victims and their families and increases awareness of the traumatic consequences of drunk driving. The Center plans to upgrade its programs offered in the area by recruiting volunteers and research the viability of more community based projects.
For more information call 800-873-6957.
One weekend last month, victims and survivors of drunk driving crashes met with 40 alcohol/drug offenders in Great Bend. Now the DUI Victim Center of Kansas is looking for more area people who are willing to share their stories with people who have been caught driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, said Paul Sidebottom, statewide coordinator of the program.
For the past 13 years, the DUI Victim Center of Kansas has organized DUI victim impact panels in the Great Bend Municipal courtroom. These are non-confrontational meetings where victims/survivors talk about the life-changing consequences they and their families experienced after a DUI crash. Some of the panelists are in wheelchairs; others may be missing a limb or even a loved one, Sidebottom said. "They explain, perhaps, a perspective that the alcohol offender had not considered before."
Often someone is required to attend one of the panels following a first DUI conviction or as a requirement of diversion. Some are minors caught with alcohol.
Meetings are offered statewide. Other meetings are in Dodge City, Salina and McPherson. Great Bend has three a year.
"The numbers are growing," Sidebottom said. In Barton County, that may be due, in part, to the 20th Judicial District’s decision to make attendance a requirement for probation. However, the increases have been statewide, primarily in two groups — minors driving after drinking, and senior citizens driving while impaired by prescription medication.
Studies have shown that impaired drivers who attend a victim impact panel are less likely to repeat their crime, Sidebottom said. "Eighty-four percent who attend, we don’t see back again."
The DUI Victim Center of Kansas provides services to victims and their families, and also works to increase awareness of the traumatic consequences of drunk driving, Sidebottom said.
Now the center looking into the possibility or more community-based projects, and is looking for new volunteers to upgrade its Great Bend programs. "We try to have speakers talk from a local perspective," Sidebottom said. "They may describe the very streets and highways the offenders have driven. You want a person to get an image in their mind." He wants those drivers to think of the people they put at risk while driving down Broadway Ave. or past the school on 10th St. And he wants them think of themselves and their own families.
Interested persons may contact the Center’s offices in Wichita by calling (800) 873-6957.