S. Valley authorities looking to cut down on DUIs

FRESNO, Calif.

Tulare County has long battled high DUI numbers. Now the Tulare County Probation Department has new funding to dedicate more resources to make sure dui-offenders are following the law.

As many people take to the roads this holiday weekend, police officers will also be out making sure celebrations don't lead to under-the-influence drivers getting behind the wheel.

This year the Tulare County Probation Department will be using a $75 thousand state grant to dedicate one officer to monitor felony DUI offenders.

"This is only felony cases, which means repeat DUI offenders or people who have been involved in accidents involving injury or fatalities while under the influence of a controlled substance or alcohol," Tate Rankin of Tulare County Probation said.

Supervising Probation Officer Tate Rankin says without this money probation officers would have to use most of its limited resources checking violent offenders.

Now one officer will be able to spend every day making sure those convicted of felony DUIs are following the law.

This officer is able to go into the homes make sure they're not allowed to have alcohol, make sure there's no alcohol present, make sure there's no illegal drugs, test them for alcohol and drug use on a regular basis if they're not allowed to be driving cars make sure they don't have a vehicle registered to them," Rankin said.

Local drivers out on Thanksgiving were happy to hear about the new funding.

"I've heard some stories about DUI offenders getting right back on the road and actually having another accident," Evan Raycraft said.

The Probation Department will also be checking if felony DUI offenders are installing ignition interlock devices in their cars, which are now required in Tulare County for those convicted of DUI. The device tests a driver's blood alcohol level before they get behind the wheel.

Probation officers say most felony DUI offenders aren't allowed to drive at all.

"So his main focus is keeping them from driving at all but those who do earn a license back have to have that interlock device he will have to make sure it's installed," Rankin said.

Probation officers say they've received the grant before and believe it greatly reduces the number of people who repeatedly drive drunk.

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