Santa Barbara Gets Cash to Keep Tabs on DUI Offenders
Santa Barbara County will be doing a better job monitoring drunk driving offenders soon, thanks to a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety. The $145,000 grant will enable the county’s probation department to better supervise those with DUI convictions through a variety of measures:
- “Hot Sheet” Programs. These notify police officers to be on the lookout for repeat DUI offenders who are driving without a license as a result of their convictions. These programs help take dangerous repeat offenders off the road.
- Increasing compliance. Court-ordered probation is too often evaded by offenders, and departments do not have the resources to chase up every case. These funds will help extend the department’s reach and raise compliance.
- Unnanounced home searches.
- Random alcohol and drug testing.
- Special monitoring. Funds will be used to monitor offenders so that they comply with restrictions imposed by DUI education and treatment programs.
The majority of alcohol-related collisions and deaths are due to repeat DUI offenders, so these efforts at increased monitoring are a vital part of public safety.
Recently California passed an all-offender ignition interlock law, which will require car breathalyzers for all DUI offenses by 2019. That is an excellent move, one that the majority of states have already made, but monitoring is an essential part of an ignition interlock law or any anti-drunk-driving program. Too many offenders slip through the cracks, failing to install an interlock, driving even though suspended, and failing to report for counseling.
Santa Barbara’s efforts to better monitor DUI offenders is a testament to how important monitoring is. Perhaps one day it will be part of the regular budget, so that counties do not have to depend on grants to complete the process that takes drunk drivers off the roads and helps many of them become responsible members of society.