Drug impaired driving continues to increase in the United States, creating severe public safety concerns. Currently, there is no mandated approach for the analysis of cases from driving under the influence of drugs (DUID) investigations despite calls for standardization and improved practices. In collaboration with law enforcement and forensic laboratories, the CFSRE monitors epidemiological aspects of drugs in DUID cases which can lead to the development of evidence-based public policy.

Drugs on the brain

Research

The CFSRE operates in conjunction with recognized leaders from drug testing laboratories and law enforcement agencies with extensive backgrounds in drug impaired driving. This initiative began in 2007 and has evolved over the years to meet the needs of the human performance forensic toxicology community. DUID investigations involving alcohol and other drugs remain a large area of work for forensic toxicologists who are often called upon to deliver and interpret analytical findings in a court of law. However, a toxicologist’s interpretation is often based on the results and conclusions from peer-reviewed literature and publications. Understanding the impact of drug impaired driving in the United States requires 1) advanced analytical research to confirm the substance(s) present in an individual’s system, 2) comparative data from case review in collaboration with drug recognition expert (DRE) evaluations, and 3) surveying of the drug landscape as drug trends and combinations change or evolve.

A staple in the CFSRE drug impaired drug research program is our DUID laboratory survey titled “Recommendations for Drug Testing in DUID & Traffic Fatality Investigations.” The survey began in 2007 and is now followed by triennial updates from the CFSRE, the most recent occurring in 2017 and 2020.  The structure of the survey is designed to gain insights on policies for testing, most commonly encountered analytes, and technology used for screening and confirmation testing. Additional areas of the survey include responding laboratory statistics, differences between matrix (e.g. blood, urine and oral), compliance with the recommendations, and laboratory resources. The survey results are now used as an effort to provide minimum guidelines for DUID testing in the United States.

 

Benefits

  • Laboratories across the United States are able to participate in our DUID survey and provide input that can shape the direction of DUID testing, which in turn may increase compliance.
  • Our survey results provide a minimum guideline for DUID testing in the United States. Monitoring laboratory compliance will increase the strength of the data for DUID testing.
  • Improved understanding and training surrounding DRE evaluations, especially for new synthetic drugs, are key to removing impaired drivers from the road and reducing the risk of personal injury or death. Accurate and comprehensive toxicology testing in these DUID investigations is important to determining the drug causing impairment.
  • Our laboratory is involved with the development of accurate, sensitive, and robust analytical methods for quantitation of drugs present in DUID investigations.

 

Applications

DUID research conducted by the CFSRE includes providing compiled survey results to forensic toxicology laboratories from across the US. Areas of the survey include: toxicology laboratory statistics; laboratory methods for screening and confirmation in blood, urine and oral; compliance with the recommendations; and laboratory resources. The recommendations have been updated every three years since 2013.

Lab typing

Resources

The CFSRE develops informative open-access resources to contribute to the scientific community, including scientific reports or publications and training or educational materials.

 

Publications/Presentations

DUID Laboratory Surveys

 

Peer reviewed publications

 

Presentations