Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Placer County California District Attorney’s Office has the highest conviction rate of DUI drivers in California, El Centro has DUI officer of year

California DUI attorneys report the Placer County California District Attorney’s Office has the highest conviction rate of drunken or impaired drivers in the state.

A California Department of Motor Vehicles report states that Placer’s California DUI driving under the influence conviction rate is 99.2 percent. The state average is 79.4 percent.

Only two other counties in California had California DUI conviction rates of 90 percent or higher. These included Shasta at 96.9 percent and Santa Barbara at 92 percent.

The statistics are based on California DUI arrests made in 2006 and their subsequent California DUI prosecutions through the end of the 2007 year.

Placer County’s rating marked the fourth consecutive year in which the county had a DUI conviction record of 90 percent or higher.

Capt. Rick Ward, commander of the California Highway Patrol’s Auburn office, said the No. 1 rating by Placer County came as no surprise to him.

“I’ve worked up and down the state and I can say that the Placer County District Attorney’s Office is one of the hardest-working agencies toward achieving justice that I’ve seen,” Ward said. “This county lets people know that if you come here and are violating DUI laws, you will be held accountable.”

Steve Dragland, supervising deputy district attorney for Placer County, credited the nearly perfect score to an aggressive approach by his California DUI prosecutors and by the local law enforcement agencies that made the California DUI arrests.

“Our office takes DUI very seriously,” Dragland said. “It is our duty to protect the public from impaired drivers.”

Dee Dee Gunther, spokeswoman for the Roseville Police Department, said Roseville California DUI officers know that when they arrest a drunken driving suspect, “he is going to be aggressively prosecuted by the District Attorney’s Office.”

Placer County prosecutors hope the high California DUI conviction rate will deter other drivers who’ve been drinking by causing them to take a taxi or to hand off their car keys to a sober friend to drive them home.

“Fewer drunken drivers means fewer traffic accidents,” Clark Gehlbach, a Placer deputy district attorney, said. “And fewer accidents means fewer deaths.”

Law enforcement agencies in Placer County have consistently conducted programs aimed at arresting California DUI / drunk drivers.

Roseville, for example, tackles drunken driving by conducting California DUI sobriety checkpoints on certain Friday nights or by saturating busy intersections with police officers.

The CHP conducts “zero tolerance” efforts by putting all available California DUI officers on highways or county roads on certain days to look for speeding or inebriated motorists.

All of the California DUI law enforcement agencies in Placer County participate in a program known as “Avoid the Seven,” in which officers combine on holiday weekends to find and arrest California DUI drunk drivers.

The DMV report shows that Placer County convicted 2,257 motorists on misdemeanor DUI charges and 76 others on felony DUI charges. Another 182 drivers who were arrested on suspicion of drunken driving were eventually convicted of reckless driving.

The DMV report can be viewed at www.ots.ca.gov/pdf/Publications/DUI—2009—MIS—AR.pdf

In related California DUI news, El Centro-based California Highway Patrol Officer Gilbert Caldera will receive the" Outstanding DUI Officer Of The Year " award from the Mothers Against Drunk Drivers organization.

The California DUI award will take place April 2, 2009 at the San Diego Hilton - Del Mar Hotel. Officer Caldera is being recognized for his excellent work in arresting and convicting California DUI offenders in 2008. He was selected from all the CHP officers assigned to the 19 CHP area offices / inspection facilities in the Highway Patrol's Border Division.

This is the second consecutive year that Officer Caldera has received this California DUI award. El Centro Area Commander said: The detection and apprehension of California DUI / drunk and / or impaired drivers is a crucial component of California's traffic safety program. We are very proud of Officer Caldera and the efforts made by all the El Centro CHP Officers in 2008. Officer Caldera is credited with 108 California DUI arrests last year.

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