FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: September 14, 2018
OCDA RECEIVES OVER $1.4 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. The California OTS awards funds to identify and address emerging traffic safety issues through innovative and evidence-based programs. OCDA was given $754,563 for the Alcohol and Drug Impaired Driver Vertical Prosecution Program and $722,513 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.
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 2018 grant year, OCDA prosecutors reviewed 1,675 DUID cases and charged 925 of them. As an office, we were able to secure 982 DUID convictions in the 2018 grant year. This year, the eight prosecutors assigned to the program are Deputy District Attorneys Mina Said and Nathan Barrett of Central Justice Center, Dalia Wahab and Mark Swenson of West Justice Center, Erin Henry and Stephanie Caughlin of Harbor Justice Center, and Tom Phan and Stephen Ladsous of North Justice Center.
“Through the successful collaboration with the Office of Traffic Safety and agencies across the state, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office is honored to serve as a national leader in the area of drug-impaired driving; we will continue to develop best practices in regards to education, outreach, investigation, and prosecution practices. I want to thank the OTS for this grant funding, which allows us to continue this very important work,” said District Attorney Tony Rackauckas.
The Appellate and Training Unit is under the supervision of Senior Assistant District Attorney Keith Bogardus. Assistant District Attorney Susan Price and Assistant Head of Court brock Zimmon and Deputy District Attorneys Hoon Chang and Alyssa Staudinger, 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.