SANTA ANA, Calif .– The Orange County Attorney’s Office (OCDA) is proud to announce that it has been selected by the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) to continue to serve as the safety training agency highway statewide in an ongoing effort to combat drunk and drugged driving across California.
OTS awarded OCDA two grants totaling $ 1.9 million to fund the Alcohol and Drug Impaired Driver Vertical Prosecutions Program, which dedicates eight prosecutors and one investigator to prosecute cases of drunk driving, as well as suing the California Traffic Safety Resource Attorney. (TSRP) Training Network, which trains California law enforcement and prosecutors on how to effectively prosecute driving under influence cases.
Sadly, the number of drug-impaired driving cases investigated and prosecuted in California has increased following the state’s decriminalization of marijuana in 2016.
“Preventing drunk and drugged driving has been a top priority for me throughout my career and the Orange County District Attorney’s Office continues to lead the way in training our enforcement partners. laws to effectively investigate and prosecute impaired drivers, ”Orange County District Attorney Todd said. Spitzer. “Injuries and deaths caused by drunk and drugged drivers are completely preventable and we as a society must continue to do all we can to prevent impaired drivers from driving in order to save lives. As a member of the State Assembly, I drafted the Steve Ambriz Act to require that every Californian who applies for a driver’s license sign a form stating that they have been advised that being under l The influence of alcohol or drugs, or both, interferes with the ability to operate a motor vehicle safely, and if they do so anyway and someone is killed, they can be charged with murder. These grants from the California Office of Traffic will help make our roads safer and save innocent lives. “
The Orange County District Attorney’s Office has taken the statewide initiative to provide state-of-the-art police and prosecutors training to hold drugged and drunk drivers accountable and make California streets safer.
The OCDA received $ 1,111,504 for the vertical pursuit program for drivers impaired by alcohol and drugs and $ 833,392 for the California Traffic Safety Resource Attorney Training Network.
In 2011, OCDA developed a multi-agency collaborative drug driving pursuit, investigation and toxicology (DUID) model that served as an innovative basis for developing a nationwide program. ‘State.
In October 2016, OCDA expanded its road safety training role to the Southern California region, serving as the lead prosecution and law enforcement training agency. This includes providing live training, panel discussions, training videos and legal updates. In 2017, OCDA began to develop a statewide training program through its administration of the TSRP training network. As part of this process, OCDA began aligning law enforcement and prosecution agencies statewide to create a vast network of training, resources and education across the country. of State. This responsibility offers agencies statewide the opportunity to share their expertise in the area of road safety as OCDA works in partnership to proactively investigate and prosecute traffic related crimes, thereby increasing public safety. in all jurisdictions of California.
In the 2020 grant year, despite the challenges faced due to travel and assembly restrictions caused by the coronavirus pandemic, our TSRP team delivered over 60 trainings to prosecutors, peace officers, toxicologists, members community and policy makers on the dangers, investigations, and prosecutions of driving under the influence of drugs.
As part of these OTS grants, OCDA maintains eight vertical DUID prosecutors assigned to Orange County. These assistant district attorneys review, clear and prosecute nearly all drug-impaired driving cases filed in Orange County. Additionally, OTS has provided funding for a full-time drug recognition expert who will be available to Orange County DUID vertical prosecutors for training, consultation and courtroom testimony.
Collectively, in grant year 2021, OCDA prosecutors have laid charges in over 850 DUID and combination cases submitted by law enforcement agencies and obtained over 300 convictions in DUID cases. and combination.
This year, the eight prosecutors assigned to the program are Assistant District Attorneys Mike Paone and Keegan Lund of the Central Justice Center, George Smith and Ryan Ramos of the West Justice Center, Michael Briante and Dustin Rice of the Harbor Justice Center, and Caitlin Harrington and Shabnum Azizi from the Northern Justice Center.
The Alcohol and Drug Impaired Driver Vertical Prosecution Program grant is overseen by Deputy Prosecutors Suzie Price and Brock Zimmon. The TSRP Training Network grant is under the supervision of Senior Assistant District Attorney Keith Bogardus and Assistant District Attorney Brock Zimmon. The TSRP team consists of Deputy Prosecutors Hoon Chang and Gaganjot Batth and OCDA investigator Eric Franke.
Funding for this program was provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.