During the pre-trial hearing of Dennis Drue, many questions remain as to whether or not there were drugs or alcohol in his body. It took more than one month for Drue to be charged due to the delay of the toxicology report. As YNN's Megan Cruz reports, an upgrade to the State Police lab may help to speed up the process in the future.
ALBANY, N.Y. -- "We're seeing more prescription drugs than ever before and I think the BACs are getting higher," said Assistant District Attorney Mary Tanner-Richter.
It is a problem that isn't going away, as more people are driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The number of cases coming into the State Police toxicology lab is starting to take a toll on the 10 employees who work there.
"Right now all off them are working overtime to try to maintain the turnaround time of our cases," said Jennifer Lemoges, the lab supervisor.
They test about 3,000 samples from across the state every year. Each report must also be processed in a timely fashion. To prosecute a misdemeanor DWI or DUI in New York State, a toxicology report must be completed within 90 days. For a felony, it must be completed within six months.
A recent infusion of state money will help the lab keep up with the workload.
"It's a fantastic opportunity for us," said Limoges.
Fourteen new positions and new equipment were recently paid for with more than $2 million worth of grants from Governor Cuomo's Traffic Safety Committee.
"Going to allow us to test more efficiently, be more productive, increase our turnaround time, as well as our capability to test for some of the new drugs like bath salts," said Limoges. "There are prescription drugs you can take correctly but still be impaired to drive a motor vehicle."
Those involved in prosecuting impaired drivers said the additional staff and equipment will make the roads more safe.
"Allows us to prosecute more cases, be tougher on it," said Tanner-Richter. "Someone's going to stop and think twice. They know we mean business."