State Highway Safety Showcase
Video Testimony Pilot Project
This project was conceived in response to a large backlog of blood and drug analyses that developed due to the passage of the Michigan .08 BAC legislation in October, 2003.
The passage of the Michigan .08 BAC legislation allowed for all Schedule 1 drugs detectable in the blood to be considered under an impaired driving offense. Law enforcement was encouraged to ask for drug screening as well as blood screening for alcohol on all blood draws of suspected impaired driving offenders. As a result, there was a dramatic spike in the caseload for blood/alcohol analysis at the Michigan State Police (MSP) Forensic Science Division's Toxicology Laboratory.
The State Police realized that there was limited space at the lab and limited resources to address the backlog. The lab scientists were forced to spend a significant portion of their workday traveling and testifying in courts across the state. The MSP realized that addressing this issue though video technology could potentially save time and money, and address the BAC testing backlog issue at the same time. Furthermore, video technology would allow scientists to schedule multiple testimonies with various courts across the state on the same day. This was impossible to do when appearing in person at court.
The project, a partnership between the State Police, State Court Administrative Office, and the Office of Highway Safety Planning, has garnered much support from the State's judicial court system. After multiple video testimonies utilized by courts across the state, overall savings are estimated at approximately $1,100 per testimony. This technology has also saved the state many staff hours (typically wasted in travel time), utilizing the technology to reduce the time scientists are out of the lab to 30 minutes instead of 14 hours. Savings will increase significantly as more courts utilize it on a regular basis and the state will quickly recoup the costs of the initial investment in equipment.
After one full year of operation, the Toxicology backlog status at the State Police Forensic Science Laboratory is as follows:
- The alcohol backlog had decreased to approximately 150 - 200 cases from a high of 300 cases. The turnaround time was approximately 5 days, from a high of 14 days.
- The toxicology (drug) backlog had decreased to approximately 600 cases from a high of 1,000 cases. The turnaround time was at 60 days, from a high of 120 days.
- Jason Hamblen
Impaired Driving Program Coordinator
Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning