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PRESS RELEASE / ANNOUNCEMENTS Monday, November 7, 2011

Probation Department Gets Funding to Enhance Supervision of DUI Offenders

Grant Provides Focus on Community Safety

Are you still operating a motor vehicle despite losing the privilege to do so?


Are you thinking of absconding from Probation supervision after a conviction for driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs? Do you have a DUI warrant for your arrest? These are questions the Santa Barbara County Probation Department wants nearly 1166 convicted DUI offenders and approximately 300 others who have violated supervision conditions to consider.

Five years ago the Santa Barbara County Probation Department’s DUI Supervision Program first went into effect, specifically targeting repeat DUI offenders. Since 2006, the number of these offenders on probation has increased by 19%. Funding for this innovative program has been renewed for another year by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS), through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The Probation Department’s DUI Supervision Program will focus on the Santa Maria region where approximately 57% of the DUI offenders in the county are currently supervised and 70% of arrest warrants for absconding from probation supervision have been issued. The selection of this region for additional DUI-related interventions is also indicated by the disproportionate number of alcohol-involved collisions resulting in injury or deaths. Of 104 like-sized California cities in 2010, Santa Maria ranked first in terms of the rate of these collisions according to the OTS Collision Rankings.

Probation will target their highest risk DUI cases in the Santa Maria region for increased field supervision and office contacts, DUI program verification activities, searches, routine alcohol testing; increased warrant apprehension efforts, and closer monitoring of the 61% of DUI offenders in the Santa Maria area who also have a separate grant of probation for being an unlicensed driver or for driving with a suspended or revoked license because of prior DUI convictions.

“Thanks to the dedicated hard work of agencies like the Santa Barbara County Probation Department, California has the fewest traffic fatalities since 1944,” said OTS 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. We are on the right path with declining fatalities. We have to stick to that path so that some day we can reach the vision we all share – Toward zero deaths, every 1 counts.”

Chief Probation Officer Patti Stewart noted, “The devastation drunk drivers continue to inflict on victims and their families affects the entire community and prompted the Department’s pursuit of this grant. The DUI Supervision Program will assist in preventing further unnecessary injury or loss of life. Drunk driving offenders will be held accountable through enhanced supervision and the utilization of interventions that have proven to be effective in reducing DUI recidivism while sustaining an important focus on treatment.”

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