State’s crime lab backlog slows investigations; Recreational pot causing increase in DUI cases, long waits for toxicology

Medical examiners and coroners’ offices around the state, including Clark County’s, are seeing longer wait times for results on toxicology screenings from state crime labs, which is slowing investigations, the Clark County medical examiner said.

Clark County Medical Examiner Dr. David Wickham said his office, which frequently sends samples to the toxicology lab in Seattle, started noticing growing wait times in the middle of last year.

Wickham is also a member of the Forensic Investigations Council, which oversees the state’s crime labs, or Bureau of Forensic Laboratory Services.

The workload for the scientists at the toxicology lab has increased dramatically, and much of it, he said, appears to come from the rise in impaired driving cases opened after recreational marijuana was legalized. The system is straining under the workload.

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