The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office section dedicated to investigating and prosecuting driving under the influence cases involving alcohol, marijuana and other drugs will be receiving more than $980,000 to cover the program into next year.
Since 2016, the District Attorney’s Office has taken a leadership role in training local law enforcement personnel and deputy district attorneys to successfully investigate and prosecute driving under the influence of drug cases related to the advent of legal recreational marijuana.
A $981,124 grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration was approved this year to pay for the program, which also aims to prevent impaired driving and reduce alcohol and drug-related fatalities and injuries. Last year, the office received a $869,646 grant.
The funding pays for the DUI Training and Prosecution Section (DTAPS) which is tasked with reviewing, and in some instances, prosecuting DUI-drug cases that result in a homicide. In addition, they have been working with law enforcement personnel and prosecutors in determining whether drugs played a role in serious or fatal traffic collisions and the type of evidence needed to support a successful prosecution.
Education and enforcement are needed tools to counteract the rise in impaired driving that has been seen in other states where recreational marijuana has been legalized, according to a study released last month by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
The increased funding also will help DTAPS improve the training tools and resources used to work with police agencies and increase the number of officers who are certified Drug Recognition Experts (DREs) in Los Angeles County. DREs are in a unique position to articulate the effects of impairment caused by the various drug categories and they are able to determine if someone was impaired by drugs, alcohol, or a combination of the two, while driving.
Photo Credit: District Attorney Lacey