SAN DIEGO–District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis said Friday that a grant her office received last year from the Office of Traffic Safety to prosecute DUI cases involving fatalities and some serious injury cases has been renewed.
The grant, which is $578,452, funds two Deputy District Attorneys and one District Attorney Investigator of the DUI Homicide Unit.
As part of the grant and with assistance from the Traffic Safety Resource Prosecutor, the unit will continue to coordinate and participate in DUI prevention and awareness in schools, military bases and colleges. It will also continue to provide training to local law enforcement agencies.
“The District Attorney’s Office is so grateful for this continued funding,” DA Dumanis said. “San Diego had a summer of shame when it comes to DUI fatalities and the autumn is sizing up to be just as treacherous. Week after week we have seen senseless deaths and injuries due to drinking and driving.”
Last year more than 12,330 DUI-related cases were prosecuted in San Diego County. Of that number, the District Attorney’s Office prosecuted 363 DUI with injury cases and 17 involving fatalities. During the same time period, 46 percent of DUI drivers in the county had a blood-alcohol content higher than .15 percent – nearly twice the legal limit.
Funding from this DUI Prosecution Grant will aid the District Attorney’s Office in handling cases through each step of the criminal process. This includes prosecuting both alcohol and drug-impaired driving cases. In fatal and major injury DUI vehicle collisions, members of the team may respond to the crash scene to be part of the investigation.
The DUI Homicide Unit streamlines complex DUI cases by creating expertise within the office. This results in a quicker resolution to cases and speedier justice to the families who have lost a loved one. The specialized unit creates uniformity in sentencing among the four adult courthouses. In addition, the unit helps law enforcement adapt to changes in technology by having a designated DA Investigator who is trained in the latest techniques in collision reconstruction.
A dedicated DA Investigator assists law enforcement in finding DUI suspects through investigative techniques. Many times defendants leave the scene of a crash because they are impaired. By having a dedicated team working with law enforcement, authorities are better able to find offenders and ultimately get the message out that if you leave the scene of a crash, you will be caught and prosecuted.
“Overall, California’s roadways are among the safest in the nation,” said Office of Transportation Safety Director Rhonda Craft. “But, to meet future mobility, safety, and accessible transportation objectives, we have to work very hard together to reach our common goal – zero deaths on our roadways. The Office of Traffic Safety and the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office want to work with everyone to create a culture of traffic safety across San Diego and the state.”
Grant funding from the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will change how our office handles these challenging cases to be better, more efficient and more effective.