|For Immediate Release
December 27, 2012
|Susan Kang Schroeder
Chief of Staff
OCDA RECEIVES $480,000 STATE GRANT TO INCREASE THE FIGHT AGAINST DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF DRUGS
SANTA ANA – The Orange County District Attorney’s Office (OCDA) has received a $480,000 State grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) to address the growing problem of driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs in Orange County. This is the third OTS grant awarded to OCDA in an effort to improve detection and prosecution of alcohol and drug-related DUI cases. The OTS grant is funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
In 2005, the OCDA received a $691,631 two-year grant from OTS to facilitate the prosecution of DUI cases by allowing a deputy district attorney and clerical support staff to focus exclusively on DUI cases.
In 2008, the OCDA created the first Vehicular Homicide Team of the Homicide Unit in the State of California, with specialized prosecutors and Investigators to vertically prosecute vehicle death cases. Since its inception, the OCDA has obtained 85 vehicular death convictions. The Team has also given presentations to college sororities and fraternities as well as high school and elementary students to educate young drivers about the dangers of alcohol and drug impaired driving, as at least half of the vehicular death defendants and several of the victims have been under the age of 25.
In 2011, the OCDA received a $640,000 grant from OTS to support a multi-agency effort against DUI drug cases. From that, the Orange County Crime Laboratory (OCCL) received $350,000 to acquire the latest machinery to process DUI drug-related evidence. The OCDA partnered with the California Highway Patrol (CHP) and Fullerton Police Department (FPD) to provide 92 officers from all Orange County law enforcement agencies with specialized training to enhance their abilities to detect and arrest drivers under the influence of drugs. The grant also allowed two deputy district attorneys to prosecute drug-related DUI cases part-time.
The new OTS grant will strengthen the multi-agency partnership with the CHP and FPD to provide 50 additional officers from Orange County law enforcement agencies with specialized training to detect and arrest drivers under the influence of drugs. The grant will also facilitate the OCCL’s efforts to enhance the forensic analysis of DUI drug cases.
In driving under the influence of alcohol cases, officers can observe objective signs of intoxication including the emission of an odor of alcohol, slurred speech, and red and watery eyes. They can also test the blood alcohol content of the driver at the scene. In driving under the influence of illegal, illicit, or prescription drugs cases, the driver displays different signs of intoxication than alcohol. Law enforcement needs further expertise to detect and convict drug-related DUI drivers. The training provided by the OTS grant will focus on the detection, evaluation, and prosecution of driving under the influence of illegal, illicit, and prescription drugs including the in-depth Drug Recognition Evaluator Program and the patrol officer-oriented Advanced Roadside Impairment Driving Enforcement Program.
The Vehicular Homicide Team consists of Senior Deputy District Attorney Troy Pino and Deputy District Attorney Anna McIntire, who prosecute vehicular death cases.