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New probation department grant will help anti-DUI efforts

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The San Diego County Probation Department will use a new $500,000 grant to keep high risk DUI offenders from endangering other motorists in the future.

"Our efforts save lives and prevent injuries related to alcohol or drug-related driving," said San Diego County Chief Probation Officer Mack Jenkins. "The grant helps us hold DUI offenders accountable by ensuring they're following court orders and providing rehabilitative opportunities that ultimately improve road safety for all of San Diego County."

The California Office of Traffic Safety grant is awarded through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It pays for the San Diego County DUI Enforcement Team, an intensive probation supervision program for high risk DUI offenders. Supervision includes unannounced home searches and random alcohol and drug testing and monitoring to ensure compliance with court-ordered DUI education and treatment programs.

The San Diego County DUI Enforcement Team made124 arrests in the 2011-12 fiscal year. The majority of the arrests were offenders who did not abstain from alcohol. The team is also credited with an increase in arrests of probationers driving with a suspended or revoked license.

In 2011, the DUI Enforcement Team completed seven warrant service operations on DUI probationers and DUI suspects who did not appear in court following their arrest. The team also participated in 42 special operations, such as DUI/drivers license checkpoints, with other law enforcement agencies.

Drunk driving is one of America's deadliest crimes. In San Diego County, 74 people were killed and 2,126 injured in crashes involving a DUI driver in 2010. Of the local drivers killed in crashes that year, 42 percent had blood alcohol levels above .08 percent. In California, the number killed in 2010 was 791.

"California's DUI death totals dropped significantly for five years," said Christopher J. Murphy, Director of the Office of Traffic Safety. "But as the economy improves and people have more to celebrate, we don't want those figures to go back up. An effective way to combat that is through insuring these serious DUI offenders aren't on a path back to drunk or drugged driving."

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