by Photo courtesy of the San Diego County Sheriffs Department

The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department announces its regional crime laboratory is the recipient of a $990,000 grant to improve testing capabilities for alcohol and other impairing drugs. 

The funding is provided by the California Office of Traffic Safety’s Improved Testing for Drug Impaired Grant. The grant comes during National Drink and Drugged Driving Prevention Month, which is every December when the holidays are one of the deadliest for impaired driving-related crashes. 

 According to the Sheriff’s Department, laboratory workers will use the grant money for:

  • Expanding blood alcohol testing capabilities to include other drugs, with a goal of meeting or exceeding toxicology screening standards of the National Safety Council's Alcohol, Drugs, and Impairment Division;
  • Training laboratory staff on new instrumentation and equipment that will identify drugs or other chemicals in DUI samples; and
  • providing quarterly data to partner agencies (including the California Office of Traffic Safety and California Highway Patrol) in the San Diego region, to allocate resources for education, intervention, and roadway safety campaigns. 

A  National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) study found more than 200 people were killed in impaired driving crashes nationwide during the Christmas and New Year periods in 2020. Drivers are also making riskier decisions behind the wheel. On average, more than 10,000 people were killed each year from 2016 to 2020.

According to the Sheriff’s Department, 374 people were killed in DUI crashes in San Diego County during the same period. One in two impaired drivers also tested positive for drugs at the time of their arrest. 

A DUI can be medication, marijuana, or other illegal drugs. The following tips are offered by the Sheriff’s Department to plan for a safe celebration: 

  • Plan a safe and sober ride home ahead of time.
  • If you’re hosting a gathering, make sure all your guests have a sober ride home.
  • If you know someone who is impaired, take their keys and don't let them get behind the wheel.
  • Call 9-1-1 if you see an impaired driver.
  • Always wear your seat belt — it’s your best defense against impaired drivers.

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