San Francisco interim D.A. ends program that allowed first time DUI offenders to avoid convictions

San Francisco's Interim District Attorney Suzy Loftus, who took office Saturday, announced Wednesday that she's ending a pilot program that allowed first time DUI offenders to avoid criminal conviction.

By diverting first time DUI cases and allowing offenders to avoid criminal convictions, offenders essentially avoided stiffer penalties for future offenses, prosecutors said.

Since the pilot program first took effect back in June, the number of DUI cases that went to trial increased by 10 percent.

"Traffic safety is so important for all of us, particularly given that so many of us have lost a loved one due to someone driving under the influence," Loftus said in a statement. "These deaths are preventable, and prevention starts with people knowing there is accountability when it comes to drinking and driving.

DUIs have the lowest recidivism rates in the criminal justice system, and Loftus is hoping convictions and programs can serve to change behavior.

So far this year, 24 people have died on city streets as a result of traffic collisions.