FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: November 16, 2017
OCDA RECEIVES OVER $1.2 MILLION IN GRANTS TO COMBAT DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE AND DUI-DRUG RELATED CASES
SANTA ANA, Calif. - The Orange County District Attorney’s Office (OCDA) will continue to serve as the statewide traffic safety training agency through its acceptance of two grants from the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) for a training and Vertical Prosecution Program. OCDA was given $672,500 for the Alcohol and Drug Impaired Driver Vertical Prosecution Program and $594,600 for the California Traffic Safety Resource Program Training Network. OCDA has been working in partnership with OTS on Traffic Safety and driving under the influence of drugs (DUID) prosecutions since 2011.
With the decriminalization of marijuana, California expects to see a rise in the number of drug-impaired driving cases that will be investigated and prosecuted by statewide law enforcement entities. In Orange County, the crime lab reported a 40 percent increase in drug impaired driving submissions from 2015 to 2016. In 2011, OCDA developed a multi-agency collaborative DUID prosecution, investigation and toxicology model which has served as the innovative foundation for the development of a statewide DUID program.
In October 2016, OCDA expanded their training role to the Southern California region, serving as the lead agency in prosecution and law enforcement training. This includes the delivery of live trainings, roundtables, training videos, and legal updates. In 2017, OCDA began to develop a statewide training program through its administration of the Traffic Safety Resource Prosecutor (TSRP) and training program. As part of this process, OCDA has begun to align law enforcement and prosecution agencies throughout the state to create a massive statewide training, resource and education network. This new responsibility offers agencies throughout the state the opportunity to share expertise in the area of traffic safety as the OCDA works in partnership to proactively investigate and prosecute traffic related crimes, increasing public safety in all jurisdictions throughout California. A series of informative videos created through this partnership that bring public awareness to the dangers of drug-impaired driving may be found here.
As part of this grant opportunity, OCDA maintains eight vertical DUI-Drug prosecutors assigned throughout the county. These deputy district attorneys review, file and prosecute all drug-impaired driving cases. Collectively in the 2017 grant year, OCDA prosecutors reviewed 1,060 DUID cases and charged 925 of them. Many of those cases are still pending, but in the 2017 grant year, our vertical prosecutors obtained 522 convictions on DUID vertical prosecution cases. This year, the eight prosecutors assigned to the program are Deputy District Attorneys Mina Said and Alyssa Staudinger of Central Justice Center, David McMurrin and Dalia Wahab of West Justice Center, Lauren Boyd and Vincent Marinaccio of Harbor Justice Center, and Erin Henry and Stephen Ladsous of North Justice Center.
"I want to thank the Office of Traffic Safety for recognizing the outstanding work by OCDA prosecutors and our law enforcement partners, and for granting us the tools necessary to aggressively prosecute impaired drivers with specialized prosecutors," stated District Attorney Tony Rackauckas. "Sadly, a large majority of perpetrators and victims of DUID are young adults. Through education, we can prevent this crime."
The Appellate and Training Unit is under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Keith Bogardus. Assistant Heads of Court Susan Price and Nichole Nicholson, and Deputy District Attorneys Hoon Chang and Kate Wagner, oversee and administer all OTS grant operations.
Funding for this program was provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Safety Administration.