The Northern Nevada DUI Taskforce is hosting a victim impact panel Tuesday in Carson City to educate drivers on the dangers of drunk driving.
The VIP is a mandatory program for convicted DUI drivers as a part of their sentencing, however the class is free and open to the public. As a part of the program, DUI victims or family members of victims killed in DUI crashes speak to the drivers about how impactful drunk driving can be.
“The survivors or family of those killed share the impact of a DUI crash on them and their families,” said Laurel Stadler, Rural Coordinator Northern Nevada DUI Task Force. “The speakers usually give different effect of the crime that the driver didn’t think of. They think it is just a drive home but it can permanently change lives.”
One of the speakers who will be there will be Jennifer Loretto, a Carson City resident who was hit by a DUI driver in 1990 when she was 17 years old. Loretto was in the crosswalk near Winnie Lane when the driver ran a red light and hit her, sending Loretto 79 feet where she landed on her head. The crash put her in a coma for four and a half months with an additional nine months in the hospital recovering. She had to use a wheelchair for a long time, as she was partially paralyzed on the right side of her body and had to relearn basic skills like speaking and using the bathroom.
“The only time I even saw (the drunk driver’s) face, I didn’t see her face when I slammed into her windshield,” Loretto said.
“I no longer feel angry... the anger takes too much energy and I want to use that energy to improve myself.”
Twenty-six years later, Loretto spends her time speaking at victim panels to show other DUI drivers the effect their decisions can have.
“I was a victim of this crime and I want to put a stop to it, especially in Nevada,” Loretto said. “People need to learn to think before they start drinking. I just want to save lives.”
The purpose of the panel is to prevent new DUI victims in Nevada.
“No new victims,” Stadler said. “We want people to change their behavior and not cause these crashes. We are trying to reach those who can realize that it’s not hard to make that change in behavior that can save so many lives.”
Stadler said they often hear from the offenders about how the class actually did work to open their eyes to their decisions.
“We consistently get comments on this program and the reality has helped change their behavior and help make the commitment to not drink and drive,” Stadler said.
Anybody in the community is welcome to attend the panel. It will be held at the Calvary Chapel, located at 1635 Clearview Drive, starting at 7 p.m.