The Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office has been awarded a traffic-safety grant to enhance an anti-DUI program aimed at preventing roadway deaths and injuries. The $161,160 grant was awarded by the California Office of Traffic Safety.
The grant will be used to acquire new breath-alcohol instruments that will be administered by the Santa Clara County DA's Crime Laboratory and operated by local law enforcement. The devices will replace current aging instruments located at 10 field sites around the county. Three additional sites will be added, enabling the county to expand coverage and improve testing.
"These new breath alcohol instruments, along with the additional field sites, will enable law enforcement to reduce the number of drunk drivers on the road, and increase everyone's safety," District Attorney Jeff Rosen said.
Drunk driving is one of America's deadliest crimes, according to the DA's office. In 2009, 950 people throughout California died in roadway crashes that involved a driver or motorcycle operator with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 percent or higher.
California has seen a drop of nearly 27 percent in DUI fatalities because of increased law enforcement, said Office of Transportation Safety Director Christopher J. Murphy.
"While this is good news, we know that only by keeping the pressure on through enforcement and public awareness can we hope to sustain these declines and save lives," he said.
The California Highway Patrol is also urging drivers to drive safely and to be alcohol-free when getting behind the wheel.
"It's important to remember as the holiday celebrations kick into high gear ... always designate a driver before the party begins," CHP Commissioner Joseph A. Farrow said.
In 2010, 25 people were killed in California during New Year's weekend and 961 DUI arrests were made. For the holiday-season month of December 2010, nine people were killed and 445 were injured in crashes in Santa Clara County, according to the CHP.