Police, DA to step up DUI arrests with $161K grant

Santa Clara County District Attorney receives state grant for new equipment

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.

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Like this comment
Posted by OnenoteCharlie
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 29, 2011 at 10:36 am

The police so focused on DUI statistics that they appear unconcerned about all of the other safety threats including distracted driving, reckless driving, tailgating, sleep deprivation and many others. It's great that the DUI statistics have improved, but I'd like to see some attention directed to other threats to our safety.

Like this comment
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 29, 2011 at 11:31 am

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

Let us hope this money goes to roving patrols rather than to useless roadblocks. It is the patrols that get the drunks.

Like this comment
Posted by How-Many-Drunks-Will-It-Take-Off-The-Road
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 29, 2011 at 12:09 pm

> "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.

What a crock! So much for Mr. "Ethics".

It's a shame that some of this money could not go towards buying on-board "breath-a-lyzers" for the vehicles of folks convicted of DUIs. The information could be used to determine if these people are continuing to drive while drinking, and should have their licenses revoked.

All of this money for "roving patrols" is not as effectively spent as targeting known problems first. Given all the money that is collected now from DUI arrests, why is there any "aging" equipment in the DUI enforcement program? Where does all of that money go?

Sadly, this $100K is going to disappear down the rat hole of "enforcement", and there will never be anyway to determine just how effectively this money was spent.

Like this comment
Posted by madd
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Dec 29, 2011 at 1:12 pm

What percentage of drunk drivers are repeat offenders? I say throw them in jail after the first offence. That will teach most of them a life lesson. For the others, at least they won't be able to drink and drive for a good period of time.

Like this comment
Posted by Dave
a resident of Community Center
on Dec 29, 2011 at 10:46 pm

What I'd like to know is where all this grant money is coming from ($161,000 in this case) if our state and federal governments are continually running deficits. Seems like the various governmental departments that are glad-handing out these grants just don't get it. This is discretionary spending that should be suspended until government gets its financial house in order (or raises taxes, or?).

Like this comment
Posted by hummmm
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 30, 2011 at 4:29 am

well i guess this is where they will get money from to replace all those faulty breathalizers....i hope they are not still in use

Like this comment
Posted by Marrol
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Dec 30, 2011 at 11:11 am

I agree with Dave from the Community Center. When our city leaders and elected officials discuss various capital improvement projects, we frequently hear that the majority of these program will be funded with grant money, thereby reducing the overall cost to local tax payers. This has been the case in several recent local projects such as the 101 bike bridge, Homer bike tunnel, and the San Francisquito Creek levee improvement. As a tax payer, I would also like to know where this grant money is coming from. Something tells me that the source is not some generous private donor.

If indeed this grant money stems from state and federal coffers, it is still tax dollars that comes out of the tax payer's pockets. Considering the condition of the state and federal budgets, as well as the astronomical annual deficits that each face, I question whether or not they should doling out funds unless it involves something absolutely vital and essential. Grant money should not be used as justification for our local leaders to spend even a nickel more on non-essential projects. Grant money is not free money, it's tax revenue that we contribute one way or the other.

Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 30, 2011 at 11:54 am


You are quite right, I believe, about grant money being used for various projects such as tunnels and bridges.

But this money is earmarked by the state or feds for certain purposes and if we in Palo Alto didn't use it for such reasons, then it would be used elsewhere for such reasons. Therefore, this grant money is going to be used and why can't we benefit from it rather than another community.

What really, really, really bugs me is that Palo Alto residents spend so much money outside Palo Alto and that sales tax dollars is going to improve infrastructure in Mountain View or Menlo Park. Our city council doesn't seem to notice or care that they are doing nothing to help PA residents from using PA retail because they don't promote useful retail in Palo Alto.

They have a slogan "shop Palo Alto", but we don't have the type of retail that most of us shop all the time. Why won't they allow decent retail in the right areas of Palo Alto? Frys will probably move because of all the aggro they are getting and instead we will have housing with more residents with nowhere to shop in Palo Alto. The area around SanAntonio/Charleston is prime for zoning for useful retail like full service supermarket or another big box store, but instead they want a hotel there! We have Alma Plaza moving ahead, but Edgewood is still stuck.

When I see the money my family have spent outside Palo Alto this past month and then multiply that by the number of residents of Palo Alto, we can see how much sales tax has gone elsewhere which we could have used if it had been spent in town.

When will the city council start looking at generating sales tax by promoting usefl everyday retail? That is their number 1 biggest mistake, imo.

Like this comment
Posted by Marool
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Dec 30, 2011 at 12:57 pm

Thank you Resident, but I would add that just because the grant money is earmarked for certain projects, doesn't mean we should be jumping aboard just to beat out another community. There needs to be greater fiscal responsibility at every level. We should be pressuring both state and federal legislators to save that money and put it toward balancing their budgets, thereby reducing the need to increase taxes in the future. They should also consider reducing the flow of tax dollars that are being set aside for these grants. In the current economic climate, I resent any of my tax dollars being earmarked for grants that support non-essential, niche projects.

Although hotel revenues do contribute to the local economy, I also believe that Palo Alto has to break itself from these self imposed restrictions regarding large retail establishments. We can build a more robust local economy if we opened our doors to such establishments outside of what already exists at Stanford Shopping Center. We should be more flexible and not feel that a move in this direction somehow compromises our community identity. We'll still have plenty of the small, less commercialized establishments. Our community would be better off with the diversity and choices that a large retail establishment or full service supermarket would provide. Better for the community, better for the economy.

Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 30, 2011 at 1:11 pm


I don't necessarily disagree with you about grants, but since our state and the feds both spend large amounts of money on items like space travel, war and weapons, travel for politicians both home and abroad on "fact finding" trips, huge political campaigns and celebrations, and so on, I would prefer to see money saved at the top not on the useful bridges and tunnels, etc. that make the average american's life a little more pleasant.

I can see that grants do come from tax money, but so do many other frivolous spendings. Perhaps if some of our leaders could spend less money on their lifestyle and frills, there would be some money for a few frills for the rest of us.

A better method for pedestrians and others to cross 101 all year round is something I would rather my contribution to the government coffers be spent on rather than a few trips abroad by government officials. A sensible rail project from north to south California rather than another moon or mars mission, would benefit more people getting where they need to go.

The little man is as important as president or governor. A few perks for us for a change instead of watching another election campaign spendathon in the coming year would be nice.

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Posted by Marrol
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Dec 30, 2011 at 5:27 pm

This isn't the financial climate for anyone to be discussing perks at any level of government. We need to stop spending on perks and niche projects, and take care of our essential infrastructure needs and public safety. Period.

Like this comment
Posted by Gunn Class of '67
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 31, 2011 at 7:31 pm

Gunn Class of '67 is a registered user.

Am surprised CA hasn't used increased ticketing as a tool to reduce deficit...

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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