Placer County District Attorney’s Office Fields Special DUI Prosecution Program

November 17, 2016

R. Scott Owens

District Attorney

10810 Justice Center Drive, Suite 240
Roseville, California 95678


For Immediate Release
November 17th, 2016

Contact: Jeff Wilson, Assistant District Attorney


Placer County District Attorney Scott Owens announced today that the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) has awarded the District Attorney’s Office $ 334,938 for the continuation of its DUI Vertical Prosecution Unit. Those arrested for DUI in Placer County, especially repeat offenders and those involved in fatal or injury crashes, can expect to face highly trained, specialized team prosecutors and investigators, thanks to a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety.

The Unit, which was formed in 2014, focuses on the most serious and complex DUI cases, such as those involving injury and death, and those involving drug impairment. The Unit is comprised of a Deputy District Attorney and DA Investigator. The funding for the Unit allows the Deputy DA to handle a case through all stages of the criminal process, from the time of the arrest through sentencing. Additionally, the funding also allows the team to assist law enforcement in the investigation of fatal and major injury collisions. DA Investigators respond to the scene of the fatal or major injury collision to assist the allied agency with the investigation of the case. This combined effort ensures these cases get the maximum effort and resources available to Placer County law enforcement.

In the past year under the 2015-2016 OTS grant, approximately 100 felony and misdemeanor cases of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs were filed, while approximately 75 were successfully prosecuted. Overall, over 950 cases were DUI cases filed in Placer County.

DUI prosecution has always been a priority of the District Attorney’s Office because of the danger they pose to the public. District Attorney Scott Owens is grateful for the grant. Owens stated “This grant aids in the ability of our office and local law enforcement agencies to protect our citizens from the harms caused by DUI drivers.” The District Attorney’s Office prosecutes thousands of DUIs each year, from misdemeanor offenses to DUI murder cases. The geographic layout of Placer County, which includes the traversing of the County by Interstate 80, contributes to the highpercentage of DUI cases.

While many of the DUI cases are alcohol-related, the Office has seen a steady increase in the number of drug-related DUIs in the County. Drivers are commonly being found under the influence of marijuana, prescription drugs, illegal street drugs, such as methamphetamine and heroin, or a combination of drugs and alcohol. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s 2007 National Roadside Survey, more than 16% of weekend, nighttime drivers tested positive for illegal, prescription, or over-the-counter drugs. More than 11% tested positive for illicit drugs.

The purpose of the program is to prevent impaired driving and reduce alcohol and drug-impaired traffic fatalities and injuries. In 2013, there were 4 deaths and 138 serious injuries as a result of DUI crashes in the County.

The Unit, however, does not just prosecute impaired drivers. Part of its funding is directed towards training law enforcement, prosecutors and ongoing community outreach. Members of the team, work with the State’s Traffic Safety Resource Prosecutor Program to train law enforcement in drug-impaired driving. In 2015 and 2016, members of the team provided a total of 16 hours of quality training of DUI investigations to over 50 Placer County DUI enforcement officers.

Funding for the program comes from a grant by the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.