Bucks County may own its own DUI testing lab…

June 1, 2010

The Bucks County Courier Times reports that the new Bucks County District Attorney, David Heckler, has requested and may get his own chemical testing crime lab. The main job of this crime lab would be to test Bucks County DUI defendants for blood alcohol content (BAC) and controlled substances. It has been reported that Bucks County currently pays a private lab about $250,000 a year to test blood samples. The Bucks County District Attorney's new crime lab is estimated to save the County about $90,000 a year when it is up and running. The new crime lab would cost Bucks County about $200,000 to set up.

A DUI suspect may be tested for DUI in Bucks County, Pennsylvania by either supplying a blood sample or by providing a breath sample at the police station. In addition to blood and breath tests, a Bucks County DUI suspect's urine may be tested. The arresting police officer has the option as to which DUI test he or she desires to conduct. Most local police officers and Pennsylvania State Police officers assigned to Bucks County opt to have the DUI suspect give blood and sometimes urine at the closest hospital. The blood and/or urine sample is then taken to the lab for testing.

Should the District Attorney's Office crime lab be trusted to test the 3,500 or so DUI defendants' blood or urine? Should Bucks County DUI suspects' blood only be tested by an independent laboratory? What is independent? If Bucks County pays the independent lab $250,000 a year, is the lab really independent?

As a defense attorney, I would certainly advise my clients that they have the option of having their own blood tested by an independent source. What are your thoughts on this topic?


Anonymous,  June 4, 2010 at 11:46 AM  

200,000 dollars to set up the lab that would test 3500 samples a year, blood and urine, for alcohol, and drugs,...... sounds might low to me.
The staff itself, including chemists, supervisor, manager, secretarys, is going to run way over that itself, ...... and thats before you bought even 1 instrument or lab supply.

hplc's and gc's arent as cheap as you think.

then you got insurance costs,.... saftey training,.....contruction costs,...
audits to deal with, calibration issues,...

i would say 5 million dollar investment in the first year is more closer to the real number than 200,000.

As far as the indendant issue is concerned,..... i dont think it matters where the samples are tested as long as defendants and their attorneys have to right to go after the lab in all aspects.


Anonymous,  June 4, 2010 at 1:06 PM  

lets say they have the space, ..... you cant just take a room and have a lab.

You need a hood for solvents, ..... so now you got a construction guy in there to install a hood, with a scrubber that vents to the atmosphere,..... this hood needs to be periodically checked for negative pressure. Right here the buying of it, installation, and cost -- will be what, 25 grand or more.

thats just for a hood.

you can not get by with just 1 gc and 1 hplc, youll need at least 2 each, in case 1 goes down.
so 4 of those instruments at 25k a pop, thats 100 grand, plus, .. a sewrive contract for those 4 at 6k each a year, which includes anual calibration, and maintance services.

next you got to buy all kinds of glassware, pipetts, balances, technical and analytical balance, ph instrument,..... centrifuge ---- thermometers, .. etc..... all that need calibration and verification.

class A glassware with certificates.

you are talkiing anouther 100k in just initial costs of labware.

and now, you can not just start running methods there in the lab.

every method needs to be "transfered " to the lab. which means protocos written and profiency testing done, .. and each analkst has to pass it , using the labs equipment ----- all takes time and money,....

once you hire and pay a staff, have the pension and medical insurance,....... now you are getting into the millions in the first year alone.

you got to insure the lab in case something happens for liability as well. saftey

you going to run gc's there, which means you got gases, .. hydrogen, which is very flamable,....... nitogen, ocygen...

tanks, ..... you got to maintain the tanks, and you are going to run through gases fast.

then you are running hplcs , for drug t4esting, .. nbow you got solvent disposal to worry about,...

solvent disposal going to cost you cash every month, ...

and again, the saftey issue of storing hazardous waste on site.

im telling you,......

it is much bigger thing to even put a small lab toghter like this one, than you think,...... 200k, .... that is lauagable.

these are just the tip of the ice berg things that you need to deal with to have even a small lab


Anonymous,  July 19, 2010 at 12:33 PM  

it has been a long time, but since this remains at the latest article,...... i have an other point,...


in the area of analytical chemistry,........ for drugs,.. you are talking about having to take hplc's and change colums, mobnile phases,....... for one set of drugs as opposed to another.

hplc's are not all encompassing on one test. THEY ARE METHOD DRIVEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

a trst for cacaine is totally different from qa test for heroin, on a hplc,

you need to set up the hplc with a dioffertenbt column and different mobile phase, different wavelength,....... in fact, the whiole thing is different,

so now, even though i said 2 gc's and 2 hplcs required,.. in fact,...... you really do not want to be continous;ly changing columns and mobile phases,... you want seperate instruments,...ideally,

sure you can batch tests,....... but ive been there, for 20 years in it,

you are talking about issue cropping up,....

many issues,........ an air bubble gets in the coulen, f's up a injection,....

defense attorneys will be all over this, if they knew what the f they were doing.

i mean, come on man,

the state of pennsylvania has a lab that tests the 3500 samples a year at basically very reduced costs at 200k a year,....... and they really want to get into not only 5 million a year?,,, but open themselves up to having every single piece of data being examind ,,... where we know, as i know, .... they are incompetant, ... and anbyone like me can take trhe witn ess stand after a complete check of the lab, .. and swear under oath they got problems!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

get the f oput of here,.. idiots

clark howard November 19, 2012 at 2:27 AM  

Really informative and useful information. dui defense

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