Those suspected of and arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) in Sonoma County can expect to face highly trained, specialized prosecutors, thanks to a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS).
The $234,032 grant to the Sonoma County District Attorney’s office will fund a Vertical Prosecution team that will manage and prosecute DUI cases.
District Attorney Jill Ravitch stated, “Sonoma County faces many challenges as we work to reduce the amount of impaired driving on our roadways. We remain committed to vigorously prosecuting all impaired driving cases, including drug impairment cases. With the help of this grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety we will continue to staff our DUI Prosecution Unit with highly skilled, experienced prosecutors and support staff.”
Funding from this DUI Prosecution Grant will aid the District Attorney’s Office in handling cases throughout each step of the criminal process, prosecuting both alcohol and drug-impaired driving cases. Prosecution team members will work with the State’s Traffic Safety Resource Prosecutor Program to expand knowledge and resources in the emerging problem of drug-impaired driving
In the past year under the 2017-2018 OTS grant, the vertical prosecution team filed 1,747 felony and misdemeanor cases of driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs. The office as a whole filed 2,668 DUI cases.
The purpose of the program is to prevent impaired driving and reduce alcohol and drug-impaired traffic deaths and injuries. In 2015, there were 13 deaths and 363 serious injuries as a result of DUI crashes in Sonoma County.
In recent years, California has seen an increase in drug-impaired driving crashes. The District Attorney’s Office supports efforts from OTS reminding the public that “DUI Doesn’t Just Mean Booze.” If you take prescription drugs, particularly those with a driving or operating machinery warning on the label, you might be impaired enough to get a DUI. Marijuana use can also be impairing, especially in combination with alcohol or other drugs, and can result in a DUI arrest and conviction.
“Vertical prosecution teams help keep streets across Sonoma County safe by taking people off the road who ignore the law and drive impaired,” said OTS Director Rhonda Craft. “Driving under the influence is a crime that will not be tolerated. Funding the prosecution of individuals who put lives at risk is one of many ways we are working to educate the public on the dangers and consequences of driving under the influence.”
Funding for this vertical prosecution program was provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.