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New Approach on DUI Charges and Prescription Medications


Many counties in California have been altering their approach to prosecuting DUI cases recently. This change stems from a series of budget cuts. In response to these cuts, certain counties are receiving grants for hiring special prosecutors for DUI cases, and teaming up with other counties to prosecute DUIs. Another factor driving this change is a proposed DUI law regarding prescription drugs. This law would make it a per se DUI violation to have any type of legal or illegal prescription or non-prescription drug in a driver’s system.

DUI Prosecution in the San Francisco Bay Area

In the northern Bay area, one county in particular has added two special DUI prosecutors. These prosecutors now handle DUI charges against multiple offenders and more difficult, nonstandard DUI cases. These cases typically include auto accidents, injuries, very high blood-alcohol levels, the presence of children, and prior offenses. Previously, cases that involved such aggravating circumstances were handled by the Sonoma County prosecutors.

Sonoma County Special DUI Prosecutors and Grant Funding

The grant funding that enabled Sonoma County to hire two special prosecutors for DUI charges has also allowed them to increase the number of DUI cases that they are prosecuting. The plea bargains being offered to defendants charged with DUI have gotten shrewder and the court is funneling all DUI cases into Department Two for arraignment.

Changes to the Arraignment and Pre-Trial Conference Procedures in Sonoma County

Now, DUI arraignments are to take place in the afternoon, in Sonoma County, and pre-trial conferences are to be held later in the same afternoon. If the case is not resolved at that time and requires a motion trial or other action, it will be moved to Department Six, Seven, or Eight, and will continue there.

 

Aaron Bortel

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