Yates County holds DWI Victims Impact Panel

Penn Yan, NY – The Yates County STOP DWI Program sponsored its fifth Yates County Drunk/Impaired Driving Victim Impact Panel, Wednesday, September 22, 2010 at 7:00PM at the County Office Building auditorium.Stop DWI Coordinator Sheriff Ron Spike was the master of ceremonies and 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.51 offenders appeared for check-in, magnetometer screening, and breath testing by Sheriff’s Deputies, Court Security, and Penn Yan Police before the panel commenced. Probation Officers were also present for registration. Chief Deputy Howard Davis supervised the detail. One attendee arrived and had a positive test for alcohol and was denied entrance and he will be referred back to the sentencing court. One offender currently in jail was escorted to the session by correction officers. Penn Yan Police Chief Mark Hulse issued the rules for the session. Safe Harbors of the Finger Lakes Victims advocate Jannine Phillips showed a slide presentation with DWI related crash scenes and statistical information on drunk driving. The introductory speaker was Yates County District Attorney Jason Cook. The main panel speakers were Martha Anderson from Steuben County and Sarah Palarmo from Monroe County. Both of these mothers shared an emotional story of how Martha lost her 17 year old daughter Elizabeth in 1991 to a DWI related crash where she was struck head-on by a drunk driver. Sarah shared a similar emotional story of her 26 yr old daughter Lindsay who was killed one night in 2003 in Rochester when she was hit from the rear by a speeding drunk driver. 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.Yates County Legislators Donna Alexander and Mark Morris, County Administrator Sarah Purdy, Public Health Director Deb Minor, Probation Director Sharon Dawes, and Barrington Town Justice Susan Lane were in attendance and witnessed and reviewed the panel’s presentation. Sheriff Spike praised the members of the task force and speakers for all their synergy in making this panel a success. “If we can change behaviors and attitudes then there doesn’t have to be a next victim,” he said; and concluded that “Martha and Sarah’s stories were so compelling about being victimized by a drunk driver that they truly are survivors, and those in attendance certainly realized how their lives were impacted by a drunk driver.”

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