San Bernardino–The California Office of Traffic Safety recently awarded a $211,883 grant to the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office to fund a “Vertical Prosecution” team.
The Vertical Prosecution team will be charged with working DUI cases from arrest through conviction and sentencing. As a result, those arrested for DUI in San Bernardino County, especially repeat offenders and those involved in fatal or injury crashes, can expect to face highly trained, specialized prosecutors.
Commenting on the grant, San Bernardino County District Attorney Mike Ramos said, “I will always remember CHP Officer Ruben Rios who lost his life to a drunk driver while on duty protecting the public.” He continued, “Officer Rios had spent so much of his time as an officer educating the community about the dangers of drinking and driving. We can’t say or do anything to bring him back, but we can carry on with the work that was near and dear to his heart.”
According to Ramos, the grant will allow San Bernardino County an opportunity to add resources to protect its citizens, and ultimately hold those who decide to drink and drive responsible for their actions.
The District Attorney’s Office reported 85 deaths and 1,997 serious injuries as a result of DUI related crashes in San Bernardino County in 2015. This grant will aid the Office in handling alcohol and drug-impaired driving cases.
Ramos stressed that prosecution team members will work with California’s Traffic Safety Resource Prosecutor Training Network to expand knowledge and resources in the office. They plan to obtain and deliver specialized training, including the emerging problem of drug-impaired driving. Team members will share information with peers and law enforcement throughout the county and state.
While alcohol remains the worst offender for DUI crashes, the District Attorney’s Office supports a new effort aimed at driving awareness: “DUI Doesn’t Just Mean Booze.” Prescription medications and marijuana can also impair drivers, either alone or in combination with alcohol, and can result in a DUI arrest.
Funding for the program comes from a grant by the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Deputy District Attorney Jack Liu is currently assigned to the unit.