Through a $35,000 grant from the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility (Responsibility.org) and GHSA, the Wyoming Department of Transportation Highway Safety Program (WYDOT HSP) supported the Wyoming State Crime Laboratory’s Toxicology Unit by providing critically needed laboratory supplies to better identify impaired drivers. The grant was awarded in 2020 and was extended through 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
With summer traditionally being the deadliest season for impaired driving and with road traffic levels in Wyoming returning to pre-pandemic levels in 2021, it was a critical time to support efforts to keep impaired drivers from getting behind the wheel. WYDOT HSP focused their grant funds on expanding confirmatory methods, specifically Benzodiazepine and Z-classes of drugs, used in testing for controlled/impairing substances in biological samples from criminal DUI and traffic offense cases. To do so, they set six measurable objectives to support their goal:
- The purchase of Toxicology consumables specifically related to the expansion of confirmatory analysis for Benzodiazepines/Z-Drug classes.
- Obtaining and maintaining accreditation through ANAB for the Toxicology Unit for drug analysis.
- Training for Toxicology Forensic Analysists to expand the knowledge and the necessary level of proficiency related to confirmatory drug analysis to include a web based online course on Applied Pharmacokinetics which is specifically designed for forensic toxicologists.
- Register two Forensic Analysts for the Society of Forensic Toxicologists conference and schedule travel arrangements.
- Consultant Services for drug validation expansion for confirmatory analysis to ensure the validation methods are the best practices and streamlines the validation process.
- Create a method for the Benzodiazepines/Z-Drugs confirmatory analysis. Test the methodology, validate the method and create procedures.
At the conclusion of the grant period, each of these objectives was met, resulting in an overall success for the program. The grant enabled the Wyoming State Crime Laboratory’s Toxicology Unit to ensure continuity of operations as well as expand the number of validated methods for confirmation of impairing drugs in toxicology samples. WYDOT HSP also expects future success in providing confirmation on these substances through work funded during the grant period, which will support Wyoming by providing additional, no-cost services and decrease the need for agencies to outsource samples to private laboratories for analysis.