State

Cuomo says New York state has increased DWI investigation efficiency

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The State Police Forensic Investigation Center in Albany has improved its time to process DWI cases by 26 percent over the past two years, according to New York state Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

New York state Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday announced that the state has been more efficient in recent years at testing evidence in DWI cases.

The State Police Forensic Investigation Center in Albany has improved its time to process DWI cases by 26 percent over the past two years and reduced the number of pending cases by nearly half during that time span, according to a press release from the governor’s office.

The improved processing was aided by $8.1 million in grants provided to police by the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee, per the release. The grant allowed state police to purchase better equipment and hire 14 new analysts and support staff.

“Cracking down on drunk and impaired driving is more than vigilance on our roadways – it requires resources and technology to process the evidence and hold accountable those who get behind the wheel while under the influence,” Cuomo said in the release. “These investments have helped to reduce processing time, increase efficiency and create a safer, more secure New York for all.”

State police and the traffic safety committee sought in 2013 to improve the processing time for DWI cases in the lab’s toxicology section, according to the release. That section of the lab is responsible for testing blood and urine evidence in those cases.

Over the past two years, the lab has reduced its median turnaround time for DWI cases from 87 days to 64 days, according to the release. The number of pending cases for more than 90 days has also been reduced by 87 percent in that time frame, and the number of all pending cases has been reduced by 44 percent, per the release.

The $8.1 million in grants provided by the committee allowed police to hire new staff — some of which took on positions lost during the recession — in addition to providing training and purchasing “new, state-of-the-art testing equipment to replace systems that were breaking down or reaching obsolescence,” the release states. The new equipment replaced “aging” equipment such as drug screening instruments and added new instruments allowing the lab to detect drugs at lower levels in evidence samples, according to the release.

In 2014, New York state had a total of almost 8,000 alcohol-related car accidents, 270 of which were fatal, according to data from the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles.

State Police Superintendent George Beach said in the release that “traffic safety is a mission priority for the State Police, and the work performed each and every day by our Forensic Laboratory System plays a critical role in helping us fulfill that mission.”

“We appreciate the support of Governor Cuomo and the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee in helping us address a critical need, which ultimately helps improve safety on our roadways,” Beach said.

Terri Egan, acting GTSC chair and DMV executive deputy commissioner, added that state police are cracking down on impaired driving and keeping the state’s roads a “nationwide leader in safety.”

“GTSC is proud to provide funding that enables State Police to not only improve, but speed up testing of evidence in DWI cases, which in turn helps keep dangerous drivers off New York’s roads,” Egan said, per the release.

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