We recently discussed the large number of arrests in the Riverside County area over Labor Day weekend. It looks like the number of DUI charges in Palm Desert won’t be slowing down anytime soon. The California Office of Traffic Safety just awarded a grant to the District Attorney’s office to assist the agency’s DUI Vertical Prosecution Unit.

The purpose of the Vertical Prosecution Unit was to go after drug-impaired drivers in an effort to reduce the number of drug impaired road fatalities and injuries. Former District Attorney Paul Zellerbach was responsible for activating the Unit.

The grant is worth $490,280 and must be expended by September 30, 2016. This money will provide more resources for prosecutors in the area to go after drivers under the influence of drugs and alcohol. The grant will be used towards the western county region and will pay for a deputy district attorney. The new deputy district attorney will help handle misdemeanor cases involving drug-impaired driving, specifically from the criminal filing to the adjudication stage. The agency also intends to add three more deputy district attorneys to prosecute misdemeanor cases.

With these new prosecutors, drivers should be aware of what they may be facing if they get pulled over for a DUI. Standard DUI charges are typically classified as misdemeanors. A DUI can be raised to the level of a felony if there is an elevated blood alcohol concentration, bodily harm, children in the vehicle or prior convictions. If a charge is upgraded to a felony, that can mean more serious consequences for the driver.