Program launched to address DUIs |

Program launched to address DUIs

Prosecuting attorneys throughout California launched a campaign Tuesday to address the rising number of drunken driving arrests and alcohol-related deaths in the state.

Boosted by a $3.6 million grant from the Office of Transportation Safety, district attorneys across the state are spearheading a new program called “Make it Home for the Holidays” in response to recent statistics showing an alarming increase in DUI arrests and injuries in California.

This year to date, two DUI-related fatalities occurred in the area: one in Nevada County and one in Placer County, said California Highway Patrol Officer Steve Skeen. Locally, a total of 73 collisions occurred in 2005 related to people driving or bicycling under the influence of alcohol or drugs in Nevada, Placer, and Sierra counties, Skeen said.

DUI-related fatalities are “needless deaths associated with a very preventable crime,” said Placer County District Attorney Bradford Fenocchio. This program is to indicate that “we’ve had enough of this,” he said.

“The ultimate goal is to reduce the number of people driving under the influence of alcohol,” said Cliff Newell, Nevada County district attorney-elect.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration personnel saw the DUI statistics in California, Newell said, and it became obvious to them that this issue needs to be addressed.

Awarded to the Sacramento County District Attorney’s office by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the grant funding will support a program to educate prosecutors regarding alcohol-related incidents. The program will divide the state into five regions with a specially trained prosecuting attorney assigned to each region to conduct training and educational classes.

All 58 elected district attorneys and thousands of prosecutors in the state are represented by the California District Attorneys Association.

“This is a landmark effort by CDAA,” said Gerald Shea, San Luis Obispo District Attorney and president of CDAA in a news release. “Never before has there been a coordinated effort by prosecutors throughout California, or any state, to reduce the number of DUI arrests and DUI related fatalities.”

Newell said one of the deputy district attorneys from Nevada County’s district attorney office will participate in the program. The program is still coming together, Newell said.

“We’re hopeful that with those funds we can prosecute the cases more effectively,” Fennocchio said.

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