A constant theme in criminal justice for decades has been the problem of drinking and driving. Despite significant long-term success in reducing the number of traffic deaths and the percentage of deaths relating to drinking drivers, the trend continues: an alarming number of people are killed and injured every year due to drunk driving.
Nearly every prosecutor in the Office of the District Attorney has handled DUI cases at times, and every current General Felony and Misdemeanor prosecutor has a significant practice in DUIs.
Significant changes in the law have made more aggressive prosecution of DUI offenders possible:
The minimum blood alcohol level for DUI has been lowered to .08% from .10.
All DUI charges must now be prosecuted in District Court, unless the defendant is a true first offender, or in a municipal court of record, which allows a second conviction to be treated as a felony.
DUIs that cause great bodily injury to another person are now a felony, even on a first offense.
DUI charges for persons under 21 years of age can be based on any measurable quantity of alcohol.
Conviction for a third felony DUI now carries up to 10 years in prison.
Suspended sentences for a third felony DUI may only be granted if the court orders electronic monitoring of the defendant.
The District Attorney’s Office actively cooperates with treatment providers, alcohol education groups, and private groups which combat drunk driving, to prevent drunk driving and to treat offenders to prevent repeat offenses.
This approach emphasizes accountability and individual responsibility. Prosecutors vigorously resist efforts to treat convicted drunk drivers as merely persons who need treatment. Instead, a broader view is urged, dealing with all aspects of the offense, including harm or potential harm to the citizens, as well as the needs of the defendant.