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P004: Scientific Laboratory Division (FY17-FY19 Strategic Plan)

P004: Percent of blood alcohol tests from driving-while-intoxicated cases that are completed and reported to law enforcement within 15 calendar days

Current Value


FY 2017


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Story Behind the Curve

  • Nationally, New Mexico has the highest alcohol-related death rate since 1997.
  • The Scientific Laboratory Division (SLD) Toxicology staff analyze samples for blood alcohol concentration (BAC) and drugs to determine cause of impairment in drivers. In addition, SLD Toxicology staff analyzes Office of Medical Investigator's (OMI) samples for cause of death and serve as court expert witnesses.
  • In FY17, the cumulative turnaround time of 61.8% did not meet the target of 90.0% of BAC being reported out in 15 calendar days. Quarterly turnaround times were 83.1% in Q1, 71.6% in Q2, 27.9% in Q3, and 59.2% in Q4.
  • SLD had difficulty meeting the target for this performance measure in FY17 because the Toxicology Bureau operated with ten vacant positions while continuing court testimony for driving while intoxicated (DWI)/driving under the influence (DUI) cases throughout the state. In addition, the duplicate testing that is required for this performance measure, per accreditation requirements, added additional workload for staff. 
  • SLD endeavors to serve New Mexicans with the highest quality and most efficient programs. SLD plans to overcome the challenges encountered in FY17 by filling vacancies.


  • Courts
  • Public safety officials (e.g., law enforcement)
  • NM Department of Transportation Traffic Safety Bureau

What Works

  • Training keeps analysts up-to-date on current methods.
  • Maintaining and updating equipment allows for samples to be analyzed without interruptions.


  • Develop cross-training between Drug Screening and Drug Confirmation Sections to expand the pool of staff available for testing.

Action Plan

  • Q1: Examine the process to determine feasibility: The process was delayed due to staffing shortage.
  • Q2: Select one person to begin cross-training in Drug Screening: The process was delayed due to staffing shortage.
  • Q3: Select one person to begin cross-training in Drug Screening: The process was delayed due to staffing shortage.
  • Q4: Cross-training of one analyst in Drug Screening and Drug Confirmation methods: In process. Cross-training began this quarter and analyst completed the sample intake training.

FY17 Annual Progress Summary

  • In FY17, the cumulative turnaround time of 61.8% did not meet the target of 90.0% of BAC being reported out in 15 calendar days. 
  • SLD wasn't able to meet the target because the Drug Screening Section was short-staffed by four people in a section of seven analysts while continuing DWI/DUI court testimony and duplicate testing. Subpoenas and Discovery Orders increased over 2016 totals by 8.7% and 19.9%, respectively.  This increase resulted in more time away from testing to handle paperwork.
  • SLD started to cross-train one staff member to try to overcome the staffing shortage. SLD will fill vacancies and cross-training will be expanded as staff in other areas are available.
  • SLD validated the Laboratory Information Management System upgrade during Q2 and Q3.

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