LAS VEGAS -- DUI crimes in the Las Vegas valley are not only on the rise, but they are deadly. With so many lives destroyed, a non-profit program called STOP DUI is working to curb the problem.
But there are businesses out there -- in defiance of state law – which are trying to make a buck off of the pain of families who have lost loved ones to DUI.
Victim Impact Panels are designed to help victims of DUI turn the pain of their loss into some purpose, a chance to memorialize their loved ones and galvanize the effort to see nobody else suffers again.
Offenders spend an evening seeing what DUI does by way of death and injury and leave –- hopefully -- determined to never drink and drive again.
It's why judges are mandated to make the impact panel a part of the offender's road back. A Nevada statute mandates the panels must not be operated for profit.
Sandy Heverly with STOP DUI says the $75 a DUI offender pays helps the families affected to help with the costs of funerals, mortgage, rent, airfare, and hotel and rental cars, if necessary.
But judges, Heverly says, are the reason her program is suffering from a decrease in the number of offender referrals. Fewer referrals mean less service to victim's families. And that, she says, is devastating.
Heverly has Nevada state Sen. Mark Menendo in her corner on this. Menendo says he heard of for-profit programs popping up and judges favoring those programs and had to see it for himself.
For-profit programs have every right to exist. But Menendo says judges -- by virtue of law – cannot and should not refer business their way.
Judge Joe M. Bonaventure says he only refers to STOP DUI and that the law is the law.
But News 3 cameras caught other panels advertising with posters and post cards right where stop dui holds its panels.