The program is a multi-year (2020-2022) national assessment of forensic toxicology laboratories to identify challenges, successes, gaps, and funding issues related to impaired driving (drugs and alcohol) testing and data. To launch the program, Responsibility.org is providing a three-year, $150,000 grant to the WSLH – Forensic Toxicology Section.
Increasing numbers of impaired drivers are multi-substance impaired, meaning they have both drugs and alcohol in their system. However, due to resource constraints many forensic toxicology laboratories are not able to test for a full range of drugs as well as alcohol. This gives an incomplete picture of the scope of impaired driving in the United States.
Plus, in areas where impaired driving test results are also used by the judicial system and/or public health to determine whether/where impaired drivers should go to treatment, not knowing the full extent of what substances the driver was using means decision makers don’t have all the information they need to best assess and assist the driver.
Impaired driving is a systemic multi-factor problem, and toxicology laboratories are key potential sources of data to better understand the full extent of the problem in order to increase public safety and decrease tragedies resulting from impaired driving. To better understand the full extent, additional research is needed to assess the financial and operational challenges that toxicology labs face in testing for substances.
In partnership with the Society of Forensic Toxicologists, WSLH Forensic Toxicology Section Director Amy Miles will conduct a national assessment of state toxicology laboratories to improve the quality of data and foster communication with stakeholders such as state highway safety offices, law enforcement, attorneys and judges to gauge the needs of laboratories.