Kern Regional Crime Lab Announces ‘Game Changer’ in Detecting DUI Drivers

According to a story on the Yahoo! News website, the Kern Regional Crime Laboratory recently announced that they believe the Liquid Chromatograph Triple Quadrupole Mass Spectrometer could be the key to getting more DUI drivers off California’s roads. 

David Zimmerman, supervisor of toxicology at the lab in downtown Bakersfield, led a tour of the facility. He explained that funding for the four new instruments and upgrades to the lab came from the California Highway Patrol. 

“This technology has been around for decades,” Zimmerman told reporters. “But the advancement in the electronic switching speeds, the higher vacuums – basically you can pull out more noise and have better sensitivity and signal – that’s what’s improved.”

Though the lab has been using similar technology since 2021, new advancements have enabled the instrument to detect up to 55 different psychoactive drugs from a single urine or blood screen analysis.

Zimmerman says this new equipment set is the top of the line.

Presently, the four spectrometers are still in the testing phase. Zimmerman notes that the criminologists and prosecutors who handle DUI cases require high confidence in the tests’ accuracy before such evidence can be presented in court.

While alcohol-related tests are measured separately, MDMA or ecstasy, fentanyl, and a wide range of opiates such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, tramadol, benzodiazepines, and the psychoactive compounds found in marijuana are just a few of the substances that the equipment can detect. 

All of these, according to Zimmerman, can contribute to a driver’s impairment. The warning label on many prescription drugs does warn against the operation of heavy machinery. “This includes cars, trucks, and other common motor vehicles. If you take those drugs, you can get a DUI,” Zimmerman said.

So far, California prosecutors have been impressed with the accuracy of the results obtained by the new equipment. 

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