Home / LATEST NEWS / The Imperial County DA, George Marquez, Takes Firm Stand Against Increasing DUI Incidents

The Imperial County DA, George Marquez, Takes Firm Stand Against Increasing DUI Incidents

-Editorial

Imperial County District Attorney George Marquez announced a new crackdown on cases involving people who drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs, which are on the rise in Imperial County. Also on the rise are the number of DUI-related crashes causing injury or death. To combat this growing trend, DA Marquez has obtained a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety to support all DUI-related investigations and prosecutions.

In 2021, 597 DUI cases were submitted to the District Attorney’s office. 17 of these cases involved either injury or death. In 2022, 705 DUI cases were submitted, 19 of which involved death or injury, showing a substantial increase.

The $132,000 grant will support prosecutors by providing them with the necessary specialized training to effectively investigate and prosecute DUI cases. The grant will also support homicide cases where driving under the influence resulted in a fatality.

In support of this initiative, DA Marquez has designated Deputy District Attorney Frederick Pollock to spearhead these cases in coordination with the California Highway Patrol (CHP). DDA Pollock will be receiving specialized training and passing forward his expertise to all local law enforcement agencies on the best practices for investigating DUI-related cases. Investigating DUI crashes, especially fatalities, often involves technical studies of the vehicles through experts in the field of accident reconstruction, and very specific expertise on the correlation between how alcohol and drugs affect the operation of a motor vehicle.

“The state and county incur additional costs to investigate these crimes that are not commonly associated with other types of criminal investigations—such as vehicle impound fees, extensive storage fees, chemical analysis, autopsies, and medical examinations, just to name a few,” said DA Marquez. “With county resources being limited, this grant will alleviate the fiduciary pressure, expedite case filing, and create a more meaningful case for the prosecutors to do their job in court.”

An upward trend of driving under the influence arrests where individuals have both drugs and alcohol in their systems is expected due to the recent increase of fentanyl usage in Imperial County.

“We are pleased to have a DDA on board who specializes in the nuances of DUI investigations and who can work with investigators to conduct thorough investigations on the scene,” said CHP Captain Brandon Shipwash.

“DUIs historically increase as we enter the holiday season. Using ride-share services, family members, and friends can save lives,” Captain Shipwash continued. “Everyone needs to be responsible and vigilant. Do not let people who have consumed alcohol or drugs operate a vehicle. Period.”

DUIs are usually filed as misdemeanor cases, but that does not mean the crime should be overlooked or understated.

“The reality is that every time someone drives a vehicle impaired, they risk not only their own lives but the lives of every person who has proximity to their vehicle—both driver and pedestrian,” said DA Marquez. “This threat to people’s lives is very real and we intend to hold people accountable for committing this offense.”

Drunk driving statistics in California show 1,069 fatalities from car crashes in 2022. 30% of traffic fatalities in California were due to alcohol-related road accidents. Around 29 people die daily due to drunk driving incidents across the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Annually, more than 10,000 people suffer from alcohol-impaired deaths.

Driving with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher is illegal in California. This is because vision impairments can begin with a BAC as low as .02. When caught driving under the influence, your vehicle is subject to impoundment for up to 30 days; driving privileges may be suspended for up to 1 year; first driver’s license issuance could take up to 1 year; a fine of up to $1,000.

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