(BCN)– Two North Bay counties are getting cash infusions from the state to monitor and prosecute cases involving driving under the influence. Marin County received a grant of $465,000 to continue its DUI prosecution program and Sonoma County will be given $220,000 for an “intensive” probation supervision program for repeat DUI offenders, the counties announced this week.
This is the 11th year that the Marin County District Attorney’s Office has received funding from the California Office of Traffic and Safety (OTS) for a specialized two-person team that handles drug and alcohol-impaired driving cases, the county said Tuesday. Last year, Marin County filed 982 DUI cases, which it says is “nearly” 100 more than 2020.
Forty-four of those cases were related to drug-impaired driving and 10 were for both alcohol and drugs combined. According to the website HealthyMarin.org, between 2016 and 2020, nearly 27 percent of all driving deaths in the county were attributed to alcohol involvement.
Marin has consistently ranked number 1 as California’s healthiest county from the annual County Health Ranking and Roadmaps compiled statewide, coming in first for 12 out of the 13 years of data released, including 2022. But Marin also ranks high for binge drinking.
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Binge drinking is defined as five or more drinks in one sitting for males and four or more for females. “Compared to other counties, Marin has among the highest rates of excessive alcohol use among adults, as measured by the percent of adults who report regular binge drinking,” said the county.
In Sonoma County, funds from OTS will go toward supervision of probationers to measure compliance and to hopefully reduce recidivism, the county said. The grant will pay for a deputy probation officer to carry out case management, obtaining warrants for those who fail to appear in court, officer trainings for Standard Field Sobriety Testing, distribution of “Be On The Lookout” BOLO alerts and collaborating with courts to establish probation terms and conditions.
Sonoma County is also no stranger to binge drinking. In 2010, the rate for adult binge drinking was 18 percent, three points above the state’s average of 15 percent. According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles’ most recent DUI statistics released in 2021, in 2019, 2,382 people were arrested for driving under the influence in Sonoma County. In 2017, there were 2,380 arrested.
Grants for both counties are good through September of next year.
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