(Victor Valley)– – Those arrested for DUI in San Bernardino County, especially repeat offenders and those involved in fatal or injury crashes, can expect to face highly trained, specialized prosecutors, thanks to a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety. The $230,000 grant to the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office will fund a Vertical Prosecution team that will work cases from arrest through sentencing.
“I will always remember CHP Officer Ruben Rios who lost his life to a drunk driver while on duty protecting the public,” said District Attorney Michael Ramos. “With this grant we will be able to add more resources to protect our citizens and ultimately hold those who decide to drink and drive responsible for their actions.”
The new prosecution team will handle cases throughout each step of the criminal process, prosecuting both alcohol and drug-impaired driving cases. In fatal and major injury DUI vehicle collisions, members of the team may even start by going to the crash scene to be part of the investigation.
Prosecution team members will work with the State’s Traffic Safety Resource Prosecutor Program to increase the capabilities of the team and the office by obtaining and delivering specialized training, including training in the emerging problem of drug-impaired driving. Team members will share information with peers and law enforcement personnel throughout the county and across the state.
The purpose of the program is to prevent impaired driving and reduce alcohol and drug-impaired traffic fatalities and injuries. In 2010, there were 221 deaths and 11,764 serious injuries as a result of DUI crashes in the County.
“DUI can be a violent, tragic crime,” said Christopher J. Murphy, Director of the California Office of Traffic Safety. “This special team will help insure that no one falls through the cracks, and that the worst-of-the-worst offenders face a highly skilled, dedicated prosecutor.”
Funding for the program comes from a grant by the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.