UPDATED: Riverside County prosecutors will have more resources to go after drunken and drug-impaired drivers, thanks to $860,226 in grants that the Board of Supervisors today authorized the District Attorney's Office to use.
The California Office of Traffic Safety awarded the D.A.'s office a $484,939 grant and a smaller $375,287 grant, each of which is designated for anti-DUI prosecutions.
According to the D.A.'s office, the larger allocation will be used to bolster the agency's DUI Vertical Prosecution Team, comprised of three "specially-trained" deputy district attorneys assigned to handle prosecutions countywide.
The unit was activated last year with the goal of reducing "drug- impaired traffic fatalities and injuries by holding drug-impaired drivers accountable," according to a D.A.'s office statement. "During the first year of the grant operation, the unit obtained almost 300 convictions in drug- impaired driving cases."
The $375,000 disbursal will support a DDA and D.A.'s Office investigator working full-time on cases of DUI resulting in death or injuries.
Funds will also go toward DUI prevention and awareness programs, including the "Every 15 Minutes" seminars taught to high school students by public safety officials.
"Goals of this grant include reducing the number of persons killed and injured in DUI-related traffic collisions and increasing police officer and prosecutor expertise in DUI investigations and prosecutions," according to an agency statement.
Both grants are to be expended between now and Sept. 30. --City News Service
ORIGINAL POST: Riverside County has approved using a $484,939 grant to crack down on drunken and drugged driving.
Today, the Riverside County Board of Supervisors approved the renewal of the grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety. The money will be used to prosecute those who drive under the influence of alcohol and drugs, according to Riverside County District Attorney's Office spokesman John Hall.
The grant period extends from Oct. 1, 2013, through September 30, 2014. Funding for this program comes from a grant by the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The grant will enable the DA to assign three specially-trained deputy district attorneys to prosecute drug-impaired drivers in all regions of Riverside County, according to Hall.
The DA's office implemented a "DUI Vertical Prosecution Team" last year after applying to the California Office of Traffic Safety for funding.
"The goal of the DUI Vertical Prosecution team is to prevent drug-impaired driving and reduce drug-impaired traffic fatalities and injuries by holding drug-impaired drivers accountable," according to a news release from Hall.
During the first year of grant operation, the unit obtained almost 300 convictions in drug-impaired driving cases. The California Office of Traffic Safety increased the grant award this year by providing funding for two additional prosecutors in order to expand the program countywide, Hall reported.
Prosecutors now assigned to the team are Deputy District Attorneys Julie Ching in the Western Division, Jeff Mendoza in the Eastern Division, and Rosie Semnar in the Southwest Division.