MARIN COUNTY, Calif. (BCN) - Drivers in Marin County who are convicted of their third misdemeanor DUI will now receive supervised probation and be assigned a probation officer for the first time in the county's history.
Before Aug. 1, it took four DUI convictions before the offense was charged as a felony. Now the offender's third DUI will remain a misdemeanor unless the DUI involves a serious injury but the offender will be required to report to a probation officer.
The change by the Marin County Probation Department is in response to the county's consistently high rates of binge drinking and DUI arrests, the Probation Department said. The change also is expected to increase the probation department's DUI caseload by 60 cases a year.
"People who are convicted of a third DUI clearly have a problem," Probation Chief Michael Daly said in a statement. "For public safety purposes, a higher level of supervision is needed."
The probation terms for third-time DUI offenders usually include searches, the installation of an ignition lock device in their vehicle, prohibitions on possessing alcohol or drugs and alcohol or drug treatment. A lower level of supervision could be assigned to an offender who is clean and sober for more than 18 months.
Marin County Public Health Officer Dr. Matt Willis said he is pleased with the probation department's effort to reduce DUI offenses.
"We share a goal to protect our residents. Working to prevent substance abuse and addiction before it starts, to prevent that first DUI, is also vital," Willis said.
In 2014, 1,243 DUI cases were filed by the Marin County District Attorney's Office. In 2017, 1,000 cases were filed, and 675 DUI cases were filed so far this year, according to Alisha Krupinsky, director of adult services in the probation department.
There is an average of 60 third-time DUI offenders a year on probation and 40 four-time DUI offenders a year on probation, Krupinsky said.
Supervision of third-time misdemeanor DUI offenders will now increase.
"We're going to their homes to do searches and make sure any vehicle interlocking devices have not only been installed, but are working," Krupinsky said.