Believing that license sanctions alone are not enough to keep habitual drunk drivers off the road, the Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office literally took the wheel right out of their hands by enacting a vehicle forfeiture program. This belief won Prosecutor Eric Smith the Governor’s Traffic Safety Advisory Commission (GTSAC) Award, which was presented to the prosecutor on April 27, 2007. Each year the GTSAC honors organizations, programs, and individuals for outstanding contributions to traffic safety.
The forfeiture program, initially started in the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office, was kicked off in Macomb County on January 1, 2006. It seizes the vehicles of repeat drunk driving offenders and impounds them for forfeiture fees. Since the program started, over $200,000 has been obtained. Proceeds from these forfeitures are distributed to the following three areas and utilized to further the fight against drunk driving:
- Participating county law enforcement agencies to fund additional drunk driving patrols and upgrade their technology
- Courtroom training for the prosecutor’s staff
- Contributions to charities consistent with the crime victim’s rights act, such as MADD and DARE
Prosecutor Smith emphasized that this initiative targets the chronic drunk driver only. “This program takes aim at the habitual drunk driver,” he said. “We’re seeing the same faces over and over again, and we aren’t going to stand for it. With the help of the police, we’re taking the steering wheel away from these repeat offenders. You can’t drive drunk when you don’t have a vehicle.”