California Expands DUI Prosecution and Prevention Efforts
By: Mike Stetzer
The California Highway Patrol and the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office recently released a series of announcements heralding an expansion of efforts to prosecute and apprehend DUI offenders in the state, and to place more emphasis on the prevention of DUI in California, according to The Sacramento Bee.
Three major grants will enable the expansion of a number of DUI-related programs, which include alcohol prevention efforts surrounding the continued enforcement of traffic laws, sobriety checkpoints, a designated driver program, strengthened DUI prosecution and DUI education and prevention programs.
The California Highway Patrol (CHP) recently received a grant of almost $5.6 million that will go toward the “Border-to-Border DUI Enforcement Campaign.”
According to the CHP, the goal of the campaign is to reduce alcohol-involved collisions and victims of those collisions by five percent in California.
To do so, the CHP will continue to enforce existing traffic safety rules like unsafe passing and speeding. The department will also carry out sobriety checkpoints and other unspecified DUI task force operations.
“Sadly, despite aggressive enforcement and public awareness efforts by our officers, impaired driving continues in California,” CHP commissioner Joe Farrow said in a public statement. “Every time you get behind the wheel after drinking, you put your life and the lives of others at risk.”
The CHP will also channel over $1 million of federal grant money into the state’s Designated Driver Program, which is, “designed not only to educate the public about the dangers of drinking and driving, but also to encourage and reward those who choose not to drink in order to safely drive others home.”
Efforts include CHP officers interacting with the public to raise awareness about DUI arrest and issues, as well as partnerships with community organizations, bars and restaurants to distribute informational and promotional materials emblazoned with the program’s message of responsibility.
The Designated Driver Program also includes public service announcements broadcast on local radio and television stations.
Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office recently announced a $1 million grant to expand DUI prosecution and prevention by prosecuting the worst DUI offenders on one side, while working to prevent any DUI on the other.
Improved prosecution and prevention will include two efforts. The first is a team that will be dedicated to prosecuting DUI offenses that result in injuries or fatalities, the Sacramento Bee reported. Prosecutors on this team will receive special training in the areas needed to prosecute DUI cases, and they’ll be involved in each case from beginning to end.
The other aspect of the expanded efforts in Sacramento County is a community awareness program that will educate drivers about the dangers to drivers and passengers of those driving under the influence. The “Driving it Home” campaign will use, “personal stories, graphic video, photo displays, and the wrecked vehicle of a 17 -year old boy who died as a result of his injuries in a collision…to help people understand how their decisions affect others.”
According to the Department of Justice, 217,201 people were arrested for DUI across the state of California in 2008.
California traffic records list 9,568 alcohol-related injuries or fatalities on the roads in 2008 out of 65,929 total accidents of this kind. 837 people died in these accidents, and 13,140 people were injured.