The District Attorney’s Office received a $500,000 grant from the Office of Traffic Safety to create a DUI Homicide Unit, which will prosecute the county’s most egregious DUI death, drugs, alcohol and serious injury cases. The grant will fund two Deputy District Attorneys and one District Attorney Investigator.
The new unit, which formed in October, will coordinate and participate in DUI prevention and awareness in schools, military bases and colleges. It will also provide training to local law enforcement agencies. This is the first time the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office has received funding to specifically prosecute DUI-related crimes.
“Year after year we see senseless deaths and injuries due to drinking and driving,” said District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis. “Constant education on this issue is required. This grant will help us and our law enforcement partners deliver justice in the most serious DUI cases and send a message that our community won’t tolerate impaired drivers on our streets.”
In 2013, more than 10,000 DUI-related cases were prosecuted in San Diego County. Of that number, the District Attorney’s Office prosecuted 260 DUI with injury cases and 13 involving fatalities. This year, the DA’s Office has already issued 15 DUI murder or vehicular manslaughter cases and nearly 250 DUI injury cases. In 2011, there were 10 DUI fatalities. That figure jumped to 19 in 2012.
Goals of the DUI Homicide Unit include streamlining complex DUI cases by creating expertise within the office. This will result in a quicker resolution to cases and speedier justice to the families who have lost a loved one. Having a specialized unit will create uniformity in sentencing among the four adult courthouses. In addition, the unit will help law enforcement adapt to changes in technology by having a designated DA Investigator who is trained in the latest techniques in collision reconstruction.