MADERA – Thousands of families are devasted every year through the actions of those who choose to drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The District Attorney’s office now has more ammunition to fight back.
The District Attorney for Madera County has been awarded a $136,000 grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety. The grant is to be used for a special program to prosecute the more serious alcohol and drug impaired driving cases, according to District Attorney Michael R. Keitz.“The safety of the public is ever-present in our minds,” says Keitz. “Impaired drivers place the public in great danger, and must be held accountable for their actions.”
The number of impaired driving cases submitted to the District Attorney’s Office has increased over the years. Most notably is the increase in felony alcohol or drug intoxicated driving cases, which climbed from 23 in 2008, to 70 in 2011.
“This grant will assist my office in placing additional emphasis on prosecuting these drivers, with the intent to deter those who might consider driving after drinking or taking drugs, and help eliminate injuries and deaths associated with these criminal acts,” said Keitz.
The District Attorney’s Office will use the grant funds to create a new prosecution team. A Deputy District Attorney and Investigative Assistant will receive specialized training in felony under-the-influence driving and the emerging problem of drug-impaired driving.
This new team will handle cases throughout each step of the criminal process, working closely with the law enforcement agencies that investigate.
Prosecution team members will also work with the State’s Traffic Safety Resource Prosecutor Program to boost the capabilities of the team and the office, by obtaining and delivering specialized training, including training in the emerging problem of drug-impaired driving. Team members will share information with peers and law enforcement personnel throughout the county and across the state.
“DUI can be a violent, tragic crime,” said Christopher J. Murphy, Director of the California Office of Traffic Safety. “This special team will help insure that no one falls through the cracks, and that the worst-of-the-worst offenders face a highly skilled, dedicated prosecutor.”
Funding for this program is from the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.