Michael R. Keitz, Madera County district attorney, has been awarded a $136,000 grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety to be used for a special program to prosecute the more serious alcohol and drug impaired driving cases.
"The safety of the public is ever-present in our minds and impaired drivers place the public in great danger and they must be held accountable for their actions," Keitz said.
According to Keitz, the number of impaired driving cases submitted to his office has increased over the years. Most notably is the increase in felony alcohol or drug intoxicated driving cases, which climbed from 23 in 2008 to 70 in 2011.
"This grant will assist my office in placing additional emphasis on prosecuting these drivers, with the intent to deter those who might consider driving after drinking or taking drugs and help eliminate injuries and deaths associated with these criminal acts," Keitz said.
The district attorney's office will use the grant funds to create a new prosecution team of a deputy district attorney and investigative assistant that will receive specialized training in felony under the influence driving and the emerging problem of drug-impaired driving. This new team will handle cases throughout each step of the criminal process working closely with the law enforcement agencies.
"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 this program is from the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.