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News Special: DUI Grants

Press Release

Sonoma County Lands $1.4 Million DUI Grant Funds to Support Anti DUI Efforts by Police, Courts, District Attorney

Sonoma County agencies landed $1.4 million in anti DUI enforcement dollars for the 2012-2013 DUI enforcement period. A variety of programs (described below) were funded this year, including the county's Avoid the 13 Campaign, a Selective Traffic Enforcement Program, an Alcohol and Drug Impaired Vertical Prosecution Program, and an Intensive Probation Supervision for High-Risk Felony and Repeat DUI Offenders program. Individual agency grants were reported as follows:

Local Grants List

    DUI Checkpoint Grants:

  • Santa Rosa Police Department: $75,850
  • Petaluma Police Department: $34,850
  • Rohnert Park Public Safety Department: $32,410
  • Sebastopol Police Department: $11,900
  • Selective Traffic Enforcement Program:

  • Petaluma Police Department: $230,000
  • Santa Rosa Police Department: $90,000
  • Rohnert Park Public Safety Department: $40,000
  • Cotati Police Department: $41,000
  • Sebastopol Police Department: $25,000
  • Avoid the 13 Campaign:

  • Petaluma Police Department: $280,000
  • Intensive Probation Program:

  • Sonoma County Probation Department: $156,000
  • Vertical Prosecution Program:

  • Sonoma County District Attorney's Office: $300,000
  • DUI Court Program:

  • Sonoma County Superior Court: $337,554

Grant Descriptions

According to a local Santa Rosa DUI lawyer, the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) provided the anti-DUI grant money through funding under the federal National Highway Safety Act, which provides for federal traffic safety funds to individual states, administered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The OTS grant funding for these anti-DUI traffic safety activities in 2013 is $77 million. Below are descriptions of the various anti DUI programs funded in Sonoma County in 2013:

The Avoid Campaign consists of participating law enforcement agencies throughout Sonoma County, including the Alcohol Beverage Control and the California Highway Patrol, which will conduct DUI enforcement activities during the NHTSA summer and winter holiday mobilizations, Memorial Day and July 4th Weekends, as well as special events with identified DUI problems. Activities include DUI checkpoints, DUI saturation patrols, multi-agency DUI task force operations, warrant/probation sweeps and court sting operations for repeat DUI offenders.

The Selective Traffic Enforcement Program grant consists of DUI saturation patrols to apprehend drunk drivers; warrant service operations targeting DUI violators who failed to appear in court or violate probation; stakeouts; a "HOT Sheet" program and courthouse stings in Santa Rosa. The program may also concentrate on speed, aggressive driving, seat belt enforcement, intersection operations with disproportionate numbers of traffic crashes and special enforcement operations encouraging motorcycle safety. These strategies are designed to earn media attention, thus theoretically enhancing the overall deterrent effect.

The Alcohol and Drug Impaired Vertical Prosecution Program grant allows the Sonoma County District Attorney's office to task a specialized team to prosecute alcohol and drug impaired driving cases. The prosecution team members will handle cases throughout each step of the criminal process for alcohol and drug impaired driving cases. This office will accomplish these goals through a focused caseload for the unit's attorneys and the attorneys will receive training specific to impaired driving cases by the Traffic Safety Resource Prosecutors funded by OTS.

The Intensive Probation Supervision for High-Risk Felony and Repeat DUI Offenders grant allows the Sonoma County Probation Department to engage monitoring of treatment and DUI program participation; conducting office visits; unannounced fourth amendment waiver searches; field visits; random alcohol/drug testing; distribution of HOT Sheets; and participation with local law enforcement on anti-DUI efforts including the Avoid campaign. Read Grant Funds News Article... See Full OTS 2013 Grant List...

Sonoma DUI Lawyers Question Massive Funding

Priorities or Politics

So, Sonoma County agencies landed $1.4 million in anti DUI enforcement dollars from the Feds for the 2012-2013 DUI enforcement period. Sonoma DUI lawyers continue to question the wisdom of such massive funding for one crime at the expense of other appropriate enforcement activities which could be aimed at arguably larger societal problems and criminal activity with greater moral relevance and impact on local communities, such as meth, gangs, domestic violence, residential burglary, elder abuse, bank & mortgage fraud, and white collar crimes, said one Santa Rosa DUI attorney.

Sonoma DUI attorneys examining the massive enforcement effort against one single activity at the necessary expense of other pressing problems, also point to the source of the funding, federal highway safety dollars, and ask if Sonoma County's severely deteriorating roads, bridges and transit systems, both local and regional, would be a better focus of $77 million in transportation safety funds, spent on infrastructure rather than enforcement of one hyped misdemeanor mostly committed by first-timers. DUI is an essentially political crime from which politicians, police, and entrenched charities like MADD gain traction, headlines and money, and at the local level the effect of this massive funding is a nontraditional, overfortified and arguably unconstitutional means to full police employment, observed the Santa Rosa DUI lawyer.

Zero Accountability

Santa Rosa DUI attorneys ask, where is the accountability? How does the government, or the police agencies receiving all this money, justify to taxpayers who are driving on deteriorating roads in gang ridden neighborhoods, that years of these expenditures on one single crime have been successful, or even had any impact at all? Is it possible to prove success when your goal is as ephemeral as deterrence?

When Sonoma County DUI arrests dropped 38 percent during one holiday enforcement period as compared to the previous year, the lead agency for Sonoma County's Avoid the 13 Campaign, the Petaluma Police Department, gave credit to these state funded anti DUI programs, stating that we "like to think there are less drunken drivers on the road because of the message," adding that "the hard work of the officers in the task force and the media attention is raising public awareness about the problem." See, Petaluma Police Take Credit for Reduction in DUI Arrests. Two years later, the Petaluma police were not taking credit for the reduction in Sonoma County's DUI arrests, but rather Petaluma Police Blame Reduction in DUI Arrests on Staffing Reductions. Interestingly, Albuquerque police disagree, arguing that arrests are down, not because of fear of being busted, or "getting the message out", or even staffing reductions, but rather, because Smart Phones Spread the Word of DUI Checkpoint Locations, Causing Reduction in DUI Arrests.

But, are arrests here really down anyway? During Sonoma County's expensive and highly touted Avoid the 13 Program's Memorial Day enforcement period in 2012, DUI arrests were up by 24 percent from the year before, and so were DUI accidents, including a 300 percent rise in injury crashes attributed to DUI drivers. See, 2012 Memorial Day DUI Arrests Up, Crashes, Injuries Too. Our bordering county, Marin, also a recipient of hundreds of thousands of dollars of federal funds for checkpoints and the same anti DUI enforcement efforts, recently reported a Huge Surge in DUI Arrests in Novato, one of Marin's largest cities. Then Marin CHP announced that 2012 DUI Arrests of Marin 18-year Olds & Younger Increased 100% From 2011, despite their increased community education efforts.

Isn't a better measure of anti DUI enforcement success the number of people hurt and killed from DUI drivers? Isn't that what communities, taxpayers, and Mothers really care about? Successful DUI law and deterrence means safer streets, not less DUI arrest stats, says our Sonoma DUI attorney. Well, from January to December, 2012, Petaluma police records show the city had 57 crashes and 20 people injured, up from 49 crashes and 12 injuries during the same period in 2011. See, 2012 Sonoma County DUI Crashes, Injuries Up. Petaluma police reported that "in 2013 there were 70 DUI collisions resulting in 55 injuries. DUI collisions have been increasing since 2010, from 49, to 50 in 2011, and 61 DUI collisions in 2012." See, 2013 Petaluma DUI Collisions, DUI Injuries Up Again.

So, even when arrests are down, and the Petaluma Police Department tries to take credit by pointing to their education and deterrence model, fatal and injury DUI accidents continue to rise in the Bay Area and California. See, 2012 Thanksgiving DUI Arrests Down, Fatal DUI Accidents Up, and see also, Bay Area 2012 Christmas DUI Arrests Down But Up Statewide, DUI Fatalities Up Everywhere. NHTSA estimates a Nationwide 7.1 Percent Fatality Increase in the First 9 Months of 2012, similar to 2010 increases in alcohol-related traffic fatalities nationwide, and in California. The latest statistics indicate 2012 Injuries, DUI Arrests, DUI Crashes Up From 2011. But the Petaluma Police Department does not admit a failure of funding priorities, or program administration, when injury accidents (or arrests) rise. The very agency tasked with administering programs, and enjoying the bulk of employment and equipment dollars, has not provided consistent, logical, credible assessments or methodology, amply illustrated by administrators who ignore the true public safety measure of success, and simply issue self-serving statements to fit the latest statistics. Can we even believe the statistics? See, Police Commander Charged with Padding DUI Arrest Numbers to Get Federal Grant Funds, and that's our zero accountability problem, argues one Sonoma DUI lawyer.

Civil Rights

Sonoma DUI lawyers are also opposed on principal to the cornerstone of California's anti DUI efforts, DUI and Driver License Checkpoints. See Jake's larger discussion below of DUI defense lawyer opposition to these practices from a civil rights perspective; the fundamental economic and legal objections to checkpoints below apply as well to the ever increasing array of unchecked enforcement activities listed above, such as "roving" DUI police saturation patrols and oppressive DUI probation oversight.

Santa Rosa DUI Checkpoint

DUI Checkpoints Analysis: A Civil Rights Perspective

DUI Defense Lawyers Oppose Police Checkpoints

Good Sonoma County DUI defense lawyers and the best DUI and civil rights attorneys have long opposed these generalized, Soviet-style police checkpoints because of the obvious and troubling concept that police are permitted to stop and question people without any reason to believe that they are engaged in illegal activity, so that 99.9% of those stopped by the police are innocent, directly in opposition to long-standing Fourth Amendment requirements of some demonstrable reasonable suspicion or probable cause prior to a police detention.

States Oppose Police Checkpoints

11 States Ban Checkpoints (Alaska, Idaho, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Wisconsin and Wyoming) but in a series of court battles both the US and California Supreme Courts have upheld these police intrusions if conducted in accordance with certain guidelines, said Jake, one of those "best Santa Rosa DUI attorneys." He added that the checkpoint practice seems particularly Gestapo-like in view of the fact that the added driver license component of the brief driver interrogations during Sonoma County DUI checkpoint detentions likely disproportionately adversely impacts undocumented individuals in California who are not permitted to obtain a valid California driver license.

CA Supreme Court Justices Oppose Police Checkpoints

Justice Broussard (joined by Justices Mosk and Panelli) wrote in dissent in the California Supreme Court's leading case allowing DUI checkpoints, Ingersoll v. Palmer, 43 Cal.3d 1321 (1987), that, "The Fourth Amendment is highly inexpedient to law enforcement, yet to date we have not allowed mass detentions on the theory that these might prove useful in combatting crime. I see no basis for distinguishing a drunk driving roadblock from any other mass detention established to prevent crime or apprehend wrongdoers. While drunk driving is a revolting crime, it is not the only one which the community abhors. If we abandon constitutional protections to combat every abhorrent crime which has captured the public's attention, we will find ourselves naked and unprotected in a hurry."

U.S. Supreme Court Justices Oppose Police Checkpoints

Justice Brennan (joined by Justice Marshall) wrote in dissent in the US Supreme Court's leading case allowing DUI checkpoints, Michigan v. Sitz, 496 U.S. 444 (1990), that, "Some level of individualized suspicion is a core component of the protection the Fourth Amendment provides against arbitrary government action. See Prouse, at 654-655; Martinez-Fuerte, at 577 (BRENNAN, J., dissenting) ("Action based merely on whatever may pique the curiousity of a particular officer is the antithesis of the objective standards requisite to reasonable conduct and to avoiding abuse and harassment"). By holding that no level of suspicion is necessary before the police may stop a car for the purpose of preventing drunken driving, the Court potentially subjects the general public to arbitrary or harassing conduct by the police. I would have hoped that before taking such a step, the Court would carefully explain how such a plan fits within our constitutional framework."

Testimonials

Any result portrayed was dependent on the facts of that case, and the results will differ if based on different facts.

Our DUI Lawyers

Dave Jake Schwartz is an Honors Graduate from UC Hastings Law School, and UC Davis, former Federal Judicial Clerk, and Nationally Qualified Sobriety Tests Practitioner. Member of the California Bar for 30 years, Sonoma County resident for over 20 years, handles only DUI cases, including thousands of Sonoma County DUIs and DMV hearings: first/multiple offenders, minors, seniors, tourists, undocumented immigrants, veterans, probation violations, suspended license, public intoxication, open container, minor in possession, child endangerment, collisions, hit and run, evading, resisting arrest.

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Dave Jake Schwartz