Unlike most states in our country, Nevada does not have a state-run laboratory to handle their toxicology testing. It is only 1 of 2 states to not have a state-run lab. Within the state, the agencies mainly send their toxicology requests to two test centers, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police and the Washoe County Sheriff’s office.
Due to the limitations of the lab, tests for felony cases that are going to court are given priority so that results may appear in a few days. Anything else that may be considered time sensitive can wait up to nine months for their results. Such situations include DUI cases that are waiting on blood test results.
Regardless of which side you are on, the delay causes frustration. According to Clark County District Attorney David Roger, “For an individual who believes his or her blood alcohol content (BAC) is going to be below 0.08, that they’re not guilty of a crime, their life is on hold until the case is resolved…” People in cases like that are made to wait on edge, hoping that the results come out in their favor. For victims of DUIs, they hope the test is conducted sooner so that their cases can move through the process.
The Henderson Police Department has a team of only three people working the toxicology tests, working about 800 cases a year. While the state of Nevada only requires the results for BAC on a DUI case, the Henderson lab makes sure to test for around 100 other common drugs for each case. Although they are covering multiple bases, this also means that they are at their limit.
A state-run lab may help to ease the burden that these technicians are faced with, but it won’t be easy to get there. According to Roger, lots of funding and coordination will be required from the state to make sure that they get it right.