The CA Office of Traffic Safety awarded the DA’s Office $178,369 for its DUI program
(Woodland, CA) - October 28, 2016 - Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig announced today that the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) has awarded the District Attorney’s Office $178,369 for the continuation of its DUI program. The unit, which was formed in 2012, focuses on the prosecution of DUI cases as well as outreach, and law enforcement training. The program’s goal is to prevent impaired driving and reduce alcohol and drug-impaired traffic fatalities and injuries.
Deputy District Attorneys assigned to the program prosecute the most serious and complex DUI cases, such as those involving injury and death, and those involving drug impairment. They handle these cases through all stages of the criminal process, from the time of the arrest through sentencing. Additionally, the funding allows the team, which includes an investigator specially trained in collision reconstruction, to assist law enforcement in the investigation of fatal and major injury collisions.
A key component of the program’s goal to prevent impaired driving is community outreach. Too often young people get caught up in drugs or alcohol and get behind the wheel of a vehicle. In response to this alarming trend, in 2014, the team launched its “DUI in the Schools” program; a program where the team, in conjunction with its criminal justice partners, brings real DUI trials to high schools in the County and is designed to show students the dangers of DUI and the negative consequences. The hope is that by seeing a trial firsthand, students will learn and make good choices while driving. This past month, the team conducted DUI trials at Da Vinci High School (Davis), River City High School (West Sacramento), and Esparto High School.
While many DUI cases are alcohol-related, the County has seen a steady increase in drug-related DUIs. In these cases, drivers are commonly being found under the influence of marijuana, prescription drugs, illegal street drugs, such as methamphetamine and heroin, or a combination of drugs and alcohol. For example, on October 2, 2015, Jacqueline Torres struck and killed Giuseppe Santuccio while she drove on I-80 just outside of Davis. She was determined to be under the influence of Xanax and Methadone at the time. She pled no contest to Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated and Driving Under the Influence of Drugs Causing Great Bodily Injury. She is scheduled to be sentenced on November 3, 2016. Cases such as this one present greater challenges to officers on the streets and to prosecutors than alcohol-related DUIs. As a result, the DUI grant has been invaluable in helping prosecutors and officers develop greater expertise in the investigation and prosecution of these cases.
District Attorney Jeff Reisig expressed his gratitude for the state funding. “Impaired driving is a problem that poses unjustifiable and dangerous risk to everyone on the road. This funding from OTS will allow us to continue our efforts on eradicating this problem and protecting the lives of Yolo County citizens every time they get behind the wheel of their car. Through outreach, training, and prosecution, we can hope to make impaired driving a thing of the past,” said Reisig.
Funding for the program comes from a grant by the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.