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Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Online Classes

Ben Michael

If a motorist is convicted of drunk or drugged driving, their sentence might include a requirement to complete the Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Victim Impact Panel program.

When someone is ordered to go through MADD’s Victim Impact Panel (VIP) program, they may be able to meet the requirement at an in-person class. Or they might be given the option to fulfill the requirement online.

Significance of Online Learning

MADD says there should be “no barriers” when it comes to attending a VIP class. Therefore, the nonprofit organization offers both in-person and online classes. VIP classes provided online are essentially the same as those offered in person, except that the online classes are virtual.

MADD Online Courses

In every state but Arkansas and Oklahoma, someone may qualify for the online version of the VIP program if they don’t have access to a local in-person class or local in-person classes aren’t held frequently enough.

The online class takes roughly 90 to 120 minutes to complete.

Course Content Overview

During a VIP class, victims, survivors and others affected by crashes involving drunk or drugged driving speak about an accident in which they were injured or an accident in which a loved one was injured. 

The volunteer panelists “do not blame or judge,” MADD says. “They simply tell their stories, describing how their lives and the lives of their families and friends were affected by the crash.”

MADD stresses that VIP classes are separate from court-ordered DUI school. Some judges may require that an offender attend a VIP class, while others might order them to attend DUI school. And in some cases, a judge may demand that an offender attend both a VIP class and DUI school.

Learning Objectives

MADD’s VIP program is designed to help drunk and drugged driving offenders “recognize and internalize” the long-term effects of driving that’s impaired by alcohol or drugs.

“The classes seek to create empathy and understanding of the tragedy, leave a permanent impression that leads to changes in thinking and behavior, and prevent future offenses,” MADD says.

MADD further explains that its VIP classes “are designed to provide offenders with the understanding that drunk driving is a choice that impacts the lives of innocent people — and how the resulting consequences and tragic outcomes are 100% preventable.”

The organization notes that VIP classes aren’t meant to replace penalties like jail sentences or fines. Instead, they’re aimed at supplementing those penalties by requiring offenders to get a victim’s perspective.

Accessing MADD Online Courses

To sign up for an online MADD course, visit To find an in-person MADD course in Texas, visit

Registration and Participation Process

MADD provides these registration instructions for an online VIP class:

  1. Visit
  2. Once there, click the red button “Check Eligibility” to start the class.
  3. Eligibility is automatically determined based on how close you are to the nearest MADD in-person VIP. If you click the red button “Check Eligibility” and you’re not given access, make sure you’re able to share your location.
  4. If you’re unable to gain access to an online class, contact for an enrollment override. Include your name, sentencing county and state. The online class isn’t available to people convicted in Arkansas or Oklahoma.
  5. After you click the red button “Check Eligibility,” click “start a new panel.” 
  6. After starting the class, you should see the introduction page.
  7. Once you complete each section, you’ll scroll down the page and click the lower-right “Next Page” button to continue. 
  8. At the end of the class, you’ll be awarded a certificate of completion.

You can participate in an online class as long as your electronic device offers access to a camera or webcam. The class is compatible with mobile devices.

The program uses facial recognition software to identify participants.

If your sentence requires you to take an in-person MADD class, visit to find class times and locations in your area.

Effectiveness and Outcomes

MADD introduced victim impact panels in the 1980s as a way to change the public’s general perception that drunk and drugged driving incidents are accidents as opposed to crimes.

MADD and other advocacy organizations sponsor victim impact panels. A typical VIP gathering might involve three or four victims sharing their stories, according to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). A victim impact panel coordinator moderates each panel discussion, which also might feature police officers, parademics, nurses and similar professionals.

Victims never speak at gatherings where the offender involved in their case is in attendance, DOJ says. Also, victims and offenders don’t interact during a discussion, although a question-and-answer session might be included.

A study published by the journal Accident Analysis & Prevention notes that these panels are “highly emotional,” with victims frequently breaking down in tears as they tell their stories. Presenters might show photos of loved ones or read poems in their memory.

Research findings on the effectiveness of VIPs have been mixed, with more studies finding no significant reduction in repeat offenses for offenders who attended VIPs compared with offenders who did not attend VIPs, according to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission

Nonetheless, these panels continue to be widely used, the commission says. However, the reasons for their “continuing popularity” haven’t been closely examined.

One reason, though, may be that participants often report an increase in empathy and an intention to stop driving while drunk or drugged. “Good intentions, however, are not always followed by actual behavior changes, as many studies have shown,” the Washington commission says.

The state agency goes on to conclude that these panels haven’t “delivered on the anti-DUI promise they seemed to offer when MADD introduced them.”

Cost Comparison

Costs for MADD courses may vary from one place to another. Generally, though, the online course costs more than the in-person course. For example, the online course might cost $65 while the in-person course might cost $25.

Keep in mind that MADD does not issue refunds for online VIP registrations. This includes:

  • Registrants who started the online VIP course but didn’t complete it.
  • Registrants whose local jurisdiction doesn’t accept online VIP participation.
  • Registrants who don’t finish the course within 12 months of signing up.
  • Registrants who fail to pass requirements for identity verification.
  • Registrants who try to avoid identity verification.

Differences Between Online and In-Person Classes

As you might imagine, there are some key differences between online and in-person MADD classes.

Online MADD Classes

One significant difference with an online class is that you’ll see VIP participants on a screen rather than in the same room. This might water down the impact that the participants’ comments have on you.

Furthermore, unlike an in-person class, you can start or restart MADD’s online video as often as you’d like.

Also, online classes typically cost more than in-person classes do.

In-Person MADD Classes

Of course, the biggest difference when you attend an in-person MADD class is that you’re in the same room with VIP participants. As a result, you might be able to more clearly see and feel the participants’ emotions.

Furthermore, in-person classes normally cost less than online classes do.

MADD recommends pre-registering online for in-person VIP classes. Prepayment can be done online with a debit or credit card. In-person payment options may be limited.

MADD offices don’t accept over-the-phone VIP registrations. All registrations must be done online.

Once you arrive at an in-person panel, you’ll be asked to show a photo ID, such as a driver’s license, passport or military ID. Typically, neither friends nor relatives are allowed to attend — only the offender.

Keep in mind that your access to in-person classes may be limited. For instance, officials in Galveston County, Texas, scheduled only nine in-person sessions for 2024.

Each Galveston County session is held at 7 p.m. at the county’s justice center. Galveston County says that once a panel has started promptly at 7 p.m., no one is allowed to enter. The county-hosted VIP lasts 90 minutes.

“Be on time and be prepared to stay for the entire class,” Galveston County warns.

In the case of Galveston County, no food or drinks are permitted, and no one can wear a hat or sunglasses.

Rules for Galveston County’s program may or may not apply to the Texas county where you live.

Duration and Attention Requirements for Online Classes

An online MADD class typically lasts about two hours.

Generally, you should avoid any distractions while you’re watching an online victim impact panel. For instance, you should turn off your cellphone (unless that’s how you’re watching the online panel), your TV and other electronic devices. Also, you should go through the online class in a quiet room that only you are occupying.

Paying close attention is important because you’ll be quizzed on specifics about what you saw in the VIP video, such as something a survivor mentioned or what a participant was wearing. You may need to take the quiz several times to pass it.

Identity Verification and Certificate

As soon as you’ve finished an online VIP class, you’ll be able to download a certificate of completion. You’ll give this certificate to whoever ordered you to participate in the program, such as the judge who sentenced you.

MADD VIP certificates are valid for up to 365 days after you complete the course. You can obtain your certificate by logging onto your MADD account at or by emailing If the 365-day period expires, you must retake the course to receive a valid certificate.

“It is the client’s responsibility to deliver this document to court officials. MADD does not contact court officials,” the organization says.

MADD relies on facial recognition software and randomized questions to verify the identity of an online participant. Also, a photo printed on each certificate identifies who took the class, and a court may be able to look up people who’ve taken the course.

Before registering for an online or in-person MADD class, consult with your attorney to make sure you understand the rules of the jurisdiction where you received a drunk driving conviction. Various jurisdictions may have different rules about accepting a VIP certificate earned through an online course, for example.

In Travis County, your attorney can submit your MADD VIP completion certificate by email or present it during a court hearing.

Keep in mind that only a court can order you attend or watch a MADD victim impact panel. An attorney can help guide you through the process but can’t formally refer you to a VIP class. Anyone who hasn’t been ordered by a court to attend won’t be allowed to participate in a VIP class.

FAQs About MADD Online Classes

Is There a Deadline to Complete the MADD Online Class?

The deadline for completing a MADD online class depends on the judge who ordered you to participate. For instance, a judge might require you to finish the course within 60 days.

Is the MADD Online Class Available in Multiple Languages?

The MADD online class is generally available in English and Spanish.

How Soon Can I Start the MADD Online Class After Registering?

Once you’ve registered and paid for a MADD online class, you should be able to start it right away.

Ben Michael

Ben has vast experience in defending criminal cases ranging from DWIs to assault, drug possession, and many more. He has countless criminal charges dismissed and pled down. Among many other awards, one of the Top 10 Criminal Defense Attorneys in Texas and winner of Top 40 under 40.

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