Date: November 5, 2014
ORANGE COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY RECEIVES $764,758 GRANT FROM THE OFFICE OF TRAFFIC SAFETY FOR ALCOHOL AND DRUG IMPAIRED DRIVER VERTICAL PROSECUTION PROGRAM
SANTA ANA – The Office of the Orange County District Attorney (OCDA) has been awarded a $764,758 grant from the Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) for the alcohol and drug impaired driver vertical prosecution program. The year-long grant will be used to expand the specialized team of prosecutors focused on driving under the influence of drugs (DUID) cases in all regions of Orange County.
Between 2005 and 2014, the OCDA received over $2 million in OTS grants which allowed deputy district attorneys and clerical support staff to focus exclusively on driving under the influence of alcohol and DUID cases.
“The Orange County District Attorney’s Office has done an outstanding job targeting an emerging menace on our roadways – the drug-impaired driver,” said Rhonda Craft, Director of the Office of Traffic Safety. “Their efforts are helping Orange County meet its future mobility, safety, and sustainability objectives by creating safer roadways for all users.”
In 2008, the OCDA created the first Vehicular Homicide Team (Team) of the Homicide Unit in the State of California with specialized prosecutors and investigators to vertically prosecute vehicle death cases. The People v. Moulayi is a notable case that the Team vigorously prosecuted. In that case, a 17-year-old was charged as an adult for second-degree murder for driving while intoxicated.
“I am grateful to the Office of Traffic Safety for granting us the tools to aggressively prosecute impaired drivers with specialized prosecutors. We are also able to educate police officers and the public,” stated District Attorney Tony Rackauckas. “Impaired driving ends young lives tragically, both for the victim and the perpetrator and is 100 percent preventable.”
During the 2013-2014 grant cycle, the OCDA prosecuted 1,209 DUID cases, 1,113 of those cases resulted in guilty pleas with 49 of those cases going to jury trial.
This year, the eight prosecutors assigned to the Team are Deputy District Attorneys James Hong (West Justice Center), Nicholas Miller (West Justice Center), Hoon Chang (North Justice Center), Erika Pennington (North Justice Center), Shiba Etemadian (Central Justice Center), Sherin Larijani (Central Justice Center), Anna Chinowth (Harbor Justice Center), and Habib Hanna (Harbor Justice Center). These prosecutors will work with Susan Price, Assistant Head of Court for the West Justice Center, and Traffic Safety Resource Prosecutor Program of the California District Attorneys Association to increase the capabilities of the Team obtaining and delivering specialized training to handle DUI cases.
Funding for this program was provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Safety Administration.