Sonoma County DUI enforcement Benefited by $1.4 million in traffic safety grants

Sonoma County DUI enforcement is the beneficiary of more than $1 million dollars in state government funds in the ongoing battle to increase the safety of the area’s roads and highways. The funds will provide a variety of increases in enforcement of which Sonoma County drivers should take note, with several of those centering around drunk driving, the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat reports.

Grants Issued to Combat Sonoma County DUI

Recent reports indicate that the State of California’s Office of Traffic Safety (OTS), working with the National Highway Traffic Safety Commission, has issued approximately $1.4 million in grant funds to various law enforcement entities in Sonoma County. Each fall, OTS doles out millions of dollars in grants to agencies across the state. The application process for these grants is a competitive one. The funds provided to Sonoma County are for a variety of purposes, but all relate to traffic safety and drunken driving enforcement. The benefits from the grants include increased pedestrian safety enforcement in Santa Rosa, DUI checkpoints throughout the county, and also helping probation officers monitor repeat drunk driving offenders more closely.  
Four local police agencies received grant funds for bolstering their drunk-driving enforcement. The Santa Rosa Police Department received $75,850, $34,850 went to the Petaluma Police Department, Rohnert Park Public Safety Department obtained $34,210 and the Sebastopol Police Department received $11,900.
Law enforcement received $280,000 in grant funds for the county’s “Avoid the 13,” an anti-DUI task force administered by the Petaluma Police Department, but which draws participation from all area law enforcement agencies. Last year, the total budget for Avoid the 13 was $300,000. The task force targets a handful of holidays and events dates throughout the year, including Super Bowl Sunday, St. Patrick’s Day, Cinco de Mayo and Halloween, but focuses most of its attention and resources on four period with the highest DUI risk: Memorial Day weekend, Independence Day weekend, the two weeks preceding Labor Day, and the last two weeks of the year including Christmas and New Year’s.
Additionally, the Sonoma County Probation Department received $156,000 for increased surveillance and searches, including “unannounced home searches, random alcohol and drug testing and monitoring to ensure compliance with court-ordered DUI education and treatment programs.” These increased enforcement activities will target persons who are on probation for felony DUI or multiple misdemeanor DUI convictions, according to OTS spokesperson Chris Cochran.
Police were not the only beneficiaries of the grant funds. The Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office obtained a $300,000 grant and OTS awarded the county $337,554 for its DUI treatment court.
The Santa Rosa Police Department received an additional $90,000 to address other traffic safety concerns. The police there plan to use the grant funds to increase enforcement related to pedestrian safety. According to Santa Rosa Police Sgt. Rich Celli, the police there plan to focus on “unsafe walkers and drivers and bicyclists who interfere with pedestrian right of ways.”
Law enforcement agencies are stepping up efforts to curtail drunk driving, which is an important goal. It is equally important, though, to ensure that all drunk-driving arrests follow the law and only net those who are actually driving under the influence. Our Santa Rosa DUI attorneys are knowledgeable in the law and experienced in dealing with area law enforcement and courts. Consult one of our Sonoma County DUI attorneys, who can help you defend your rights.

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