Backlog of DUI blood tests – Nevada

Henderson spends $200K to address backlog of DUI blood tests

At a July 11 meeting, Henderson’s City Council approved an agreement with National Medical Services Inc. for the company to help Henderson’s crime lab work through its backlog of pending blood alcohol and blood drug tests. The city will spend up to $200,000.

Just under 300 blood alcohol or toxicology tests are waiting to be processed by the Henderson Criminalistics Lab, according to city records.

The backlog includes blood alcohol tests from as old as from January and blood drug tests from as far back as August 2022. The statute of limitations for misdemeanor DUI is one year.

Las Vegas criminal defense lawyer Chip Siegel said the backlog of cases is not a major issue.

Siegel said it is normal for blood alcohol tests to take three to six months to produce results without a backlog.

The backlog doesn’t become a major issue unless it delays cases so long that the one-year statute of limitations, the time limit on how long you can wait after an incident before filing a legal case, for misdemeanor DUI runs out.

“If the city attorney is saying we are unable to file a criminal case within the statute of limitations period, then that’s a big problem,” Siegel said.

The city of Henderson and Henderson Police Department could not be reached for comment.

Trying to keep up

The backlog first formed because the city stopped using breathalyzer tests for DUI during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to an item summary in the July 11 council meeting agenda.

In 2021, the Nevada Legislature passed Assembly Bill 424, which required that pretrial release hearings be held within 48 hours after a custodial arrest, according to the council agenda item.

The summary said the backlog still exists because the crime lab’s two-person staff is often asked to rush new cases so the results can be used at the pretrial release hearing within 48 hours of an arrest, which keeps them from processing old cases.

“When cases are rushed, all other cases in the backlog continue to be pushed back until they also become rush cases due to the statute of limitations,” the agenda item read.

Erin Breen, director of UNLV’s Road Equity Alliance, expected fatal car crashes to decrease during the pandemic, like other economic downturns. But the opposite happened, and DUI was one of the top two causes of traffic fatalities in Nevada for each of the past three years, according to Breen.

Backlogged cases that get close to statute of limitations expiration are also rushed by crime lab staff to ensure the case can be filed, according to the summary.

“I feel for the people in the lab because I know they’re trying to keep up. I say bravo to the city of Henderson for this move,” Breen said of the city’s partnership with National Medical Services Inc.

Henderson is also planning to move its crime lab facilities to a new building early next year, and the agreement is also meant to prevent future backlogs that would come during the transition.

Contact Mark Credico at Follow him on Instagram @writermark2.

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