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Yates Co. holds DWI Victim Impact Panel

The Yates County STOP DWI Program sponsored the second Yates County Drunk/Impaired Driving Victim Impact Panel Wednesday, March 26, 2009 at 7:30PM at the County Office Building auditorium. The first VIP was held in September 2008.Stop DWI Coordinator Ron Spike who was the master of ceremonies said, “The mission is to expose DWI offenders to the pain and suffering impaired driving can cause people affected by a DWI crash and how lives, families and friends are forever altered, thus humanizing the consequences of a bad decision to drink too much and then drive.” All courts in sentencing offenders make attending the panel a condition of the sentence as required by the NYS Vehicle and Traffic law. 38 offenders appeared for check-in, magnetometer screening, and breath testing by Sheriff’s Deputies and Penn Yan Police before the panel commenced. Victims advocate Marisa Rube’ and Panel Coordinator Melissa Nesbit, from the District Attorney’s Office showed a slide presentation with DWI related crash scenes and statistical information on drunk driving. The main speakers were Chasity Szmanski from Bradford, PA and Peggy Calwell-Heichel from Wellsboro, PA who also coordinates the MADD (Mothers against Drunk Driving) program in Tioga County PA who was aided by her eighteen year old son Zeke. Both speakers’ shared emotional stories of the loss of multiple family loved ones due to drunk drivers crashing into them in head-on vehicle collisions. The attendees then completed an evaluation form and received a certificate of attendance for their submission to the courts for verification that they attended as ordered. The event lasted a little more than an hour. Spike praised the members of the VIP task force for all their synergy in making this second victims impact panel a success. “If we can change behaviors and attitudes then there doesn’t have to be a next victim, especially when making good choices, using designated drivers, and friends not letting friends drive drunk,” he concluded.

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