DUI offenders in Redding, California, find themselves getting VIP treatment. With one of the highest DUI rates in the state, Redding has put in place a Victim Impact Panel (VIP) training program that’s part of the DUI sentencing. One of the most important parts of that training uses Innocorp’s intoxiclock®.
The training program is a joint effort of A Sobering Choice Coalition (ASC) and the Redding Police Department. ASC Project Director Cathy Grindstaff works closely with Officer Jacob Provencio, a DUI specialist in the PD’s Traffic Division. He’s one of five fully trained drug recognition officers in the department.
“DUI offenders must attend our Victim Impact Panel as part of their sentencing,” Grindstaff says. ASC holds one two-hour class each month at which attendance is mandatory. The class usually has 50 to 100 participants, many of whom attend grudgingly, according to Grindstaff. “Offenders often come in angry and defensive.”
They may not want to be there, but it doesn’t take long for them to get with the program. It communicates in four parts: education, law enforcement, and two victim impact speakers. Its message is clear: Driving impaired is a choice and you need to plan ahead.
Grindstaff uses intoxiclock® in the education portion of VIP. She presents it on a big screen during class, explaining how weight, number of drinks, type of drinks, and other factors affect Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) levels.
She asks for volunteers, usually a male and a female, and walks them through a typical social evening, using intoxiclock® to point out how their BAC increases drink by drink, how long alcohol stays in their system, and what effect their choices have on their BAC Using volunteers increases the impact of the material.
“Most people are honest,” she says. “They don’t realize that sometimes when they go to work the next day, they may still be intoxicated.”
Once they’ve reached the part of the evening when many DUI offenders make the choice to drive home, Officer Provencio gets involved. The BAC of the volunteers has been measured by intoxiclock® and he chooses the corresponding set of Fatal Vision® Goggles to simulate that level of intoxication. Then he does a mock roadside sobriety test on the volunteers.
“It’s the exclamation point at the end of the sentence,” Provencio says. “They didn’t realize how fast their BAC goes up or how long it stays with them. Most people never know their BAC level until they’re pulled over.”
The class winds up with talks by two victims of DUI. Grindstaff herself is one of the speakers; her son was killed by a drunk driver.
“The education portion is not judgmental toward offenders,” Grindstaff says. Instead, she leads participants to problem-solve and urges them to plan ahead. “We give them ideas on what they can do. Put $20 for a cab in your shoe. Have a designated driver. Make a plan!”
Does it work? “It makes a huge impression,” Provencio says.
For example, one volunteer refused to drink any more during his mock evening out. Another participant wanted to bring his teenagers, ages 14 and 16, to a class to educate them.
“The light bulb went on,” Grindstaff says.
The class begins and ends with surveys. “We get a lot of positive feedback,” Grindstaff says. It’s clear intoxiclock® has had a big impact on offenders when she gets comments like these:
“This puts reality into perspective.”
“I’ve learned my lesson.”
“Life is made of choices.”
Best of all, the results are carrying out of the VIP classroom and into the community.
“We’ve seen a reduction in repeat offenders,” Grindstaff says. She expects even more impact as the program matures and more people are exposed to it. Her hope is to bring it to juvenile offender programs, too.
“intoxiclock® is one of the most successful things we’ve ever used,” Grindstaff says.