Letter: IDIPIC was supported by community


It’s nice to know that although I retired six years ago from the Impaired Driving Impact Panel of Island County it seems I’ve not been forgotten. Recently I was stopped and asked if IDIPIC might return by a parent whose driver’s ed student attended panel years back and had another about to take driver’s ed.

Due to covid, its panels ended in early March 2020. Many DUI victim panels in our state were held remotely through Zoom or other online meetings. Some continue to do so. Unfortunately, IDIPIC was not one of them.

While such panels are shown not to have the emotional impact of live ones they do allow DUI offenders to recognize and internalize the lasting effects of impaired driving to help prevent future offenses.

Program revenue losses 2020 through 2021 from DUI offenders’ fees (driver’s ed. students and their parents attended free) contributed to IDIPIC’s demise. As a nonprofit IDIPIC relied primarily on volunteers and panel fees to operate unlike several of our state’s DUI impact panels run by probation, health department or treatment center.

IDIPIC grew from a DUI panel for offenders in North Whidbey in 2000 to panels in South Whidbey and NAS Whidbey Island reaching well over 33,000 offenders, students, parents and guests by 2016. Within just a few years of its start, local statistics showed a decline in impaired driving arrests.

IIDIPIC also reached thousands of young people with its unique age-appropriate programs — PICKLES: Positive Influences Changing Childrens’ Lives in Elementary Schools, Th!nk, Don’t Drink or Drug for middle school classes and Th!nk, Don’t Drink, Drug and Drive for driver’s education students.

People still recall its fun OkSOBERfests and Be Safe, Be Seen on Halloween among other events.

I close with heartfelt appreciation to the many volunteers who gave of their time and hearts and to the agencies, businesses, organizations and the Navy providing support to this award-winning community service nonprofit. Also to the many teachers who invited IDIPIC into their classrooms and the driver’s ed. schools and instructors who made panels a class requirement: all Partners in Prevention that helped make our roads safer for all.

You are not forgotten.

JoAnn Hellmann

Oak Harbor