Public Safety

Worst DUI Drivers Closely Watched

They are the worst of the worst on the road: They’ve been arrested repeatedly for DUI, and maybe they’ve already hurt someone in a crash. But they keep driving drunk.

This year, the San Diego County Probation Department will use a $432,462 grant it recently received to monitor these high risk DUI offenders and keep the roadways safe.

“The grant helps funds officers and programs that save the lives of innocent motorists,” said San Diego County Chief Probation Officer Mack Jenkins. “Intensive probation supervision is critical for high risk DUI offenders. Just as importantly, our officers are steering these offenders toward rehabilitative programs that could ultimately prevent their dangerous behavior.”

The California Office of Traffic Safety grant is awarded through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It partially funds the San Diego County Probation Department’s DUI Enforcement Team, which supervises about 775 DUI offenders at any given time. Probation officers on the team make unannounced home visits and searches and conduct random alcohol and drug testing on offenders while making sure they’re sober and participating in court-ordered DUI education and treatment programs. 

The San Diego County DUI Enforcement Team also conducts special joint operations with other law enforcement agencies, including warrant searches, DUI/driver license checkpoints, and sting operations to make sure probationers – who generally have suspended licenses because of their crimes – are not driving from the probation office or other locations.

In the 2012-2013 fiscal year, the team arrested 273 probationers, the majority for failing to abstain from alcohol use. The team arrested 25 probationers driving with a suspended or revoked license.

DUI is a serious public safety threat in San Diego County. In 2010, the most recent year for which data is available, San Diego County recorded 17,305 DUI arrests, the second highest number of any county in the state, according to the California Department of Motor Vehicles. That year, San Diego suffered 68 alcohol-related fatalities and 1,534 injuries, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The dedicated DUI Enforcement Team allows the Probation Department to contact DUI offenders as frequently as other high-risk offenders the department supervises. Combined with the joint operations with partner law enforcement agencies, this intensive supervision increases the number of DUI offenders who comply with court terms and abstain from alcohol use. Ultimately, the team’s efforts enhance public safety by preventing repeat DUI offenders from driving drunk yet again.