When a driver in Colorado is accused of
drunk driving, they often submit to a blood test which aims to detect and measure the level of alcohol in an individual’s blood. The majority of these blood tests are tested and analyzed at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s toxicology lab. New information was recently leaked that once again calls the practices of the lab, its leadership and the practices of its technicians into question.

An email from a former technician who worked at the state-run lab was recently released which details numerous problems in how evidence is processed, stored and presented. According to the email sent by the former lab technician inexperienced employees are often tasked with training in new employees. Furthermore, these employees are not supervised and despite checklists related to their job duties, many key steps in preparing and analyzing data is often missed.

Additionally, the former employee asserts that the refrigerators which contain the blood samples used in drunk driving cases are not locked at night. The former employee goes on to assert that cleaning crews or other visitors to the lab could easily tamper with evidence and even replace blood samples.

When discussing the professionalism of the head of the state toxicology lab, the former employee paints a picture of a woman who highly favors prosecutors and often recruits technicians to assist her with non-work related matters.

This most-recent email is not the first time the practices of the state-run toxicology lab have been called into question. Last year, more than 1,000 blood samples were required to undergo retesting after it was discovered that a technician made several errors when handling and analyzing the samples.

Source: Colorado Springs Independent, ”
Chronic problems at the state toxicology lab,” Chet Hardin, Feb. 6, 2013