Robert H. Powers, Ph.D.
278 Colony Street
Meriden, Connecticut 06451
(203) 427-4043 Telephone
(203) 427-4600 Fax
Expert forensic analysis of evidentiary material is critical to the successful investigation and prosecution of crimes such as possession of controlled substance, drug facilitated assaults, and driving under the influence (DUI).
The Department of Emergency Services and Public Protectionís Controlled Substance/Toxicology Laboratory provides the only comprehensive forensic laboratory services in this field to the Law Enforcement and Judicial communities in Connecticut in their pursuits of criminal apprehension and prosecution.
- The scientific examination and analysis of evidentiary material, and,
- Testimony concerning the analysis of evidentiary material, and interpretation of technical data and laboratory findings.
Standard areas of analysis include controlled substance, urinalysis and blood and breath alcohol determinations. A total of 5,334 examinations were conducted in 2004.
Services are provided by scientific personnel who keep abreast of the latest techniques in order to provide unassailable, timely and accurate results to agencies requesting assistance.
To maintain the highest levels of performance and service, the Laboratory administers a formal Quality Program, and conducts internal and external reviews including accreditation, audits, peer review, and proficiency testing.
This program serves Connecticutís Criminal Justice community by analyzing blood, breath, and urine samples taken from drivers suspected of impairment. The major function of the Toxicology Section is body fluid analysis; in cases of DUI, blood specimens yield excellent results for alcohol, tranquilizers and sedatives, while urine specimens yield excellent results for stimulants and narcotics. The analyses require special instrumentation and procedures such as automatic gas chromatograph/mass spectrometry, solid phase extraction preps, ultraviolet spectrophotometry, thin layer and high performance liquid chromatography, and Enzymatic Immunoassay Test (EMIT) screening techniques, which is a drug screen of blood and urine.
In 2004, 3,800 blood and urine samples were analyzed for ethyl alcohol and drugs.
CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE SECTION
Controlled Substance Section personnel provide analytical support to Law Enforcement agencies to identify and quantitate drug seizures. The most commonly analyzed substances are marijuana, cocaine, MDMA, heroin, prescription and designer drugs.
In 2004, the Controlled Substance Section conducted at least two tests on each of the 4,084 cases.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services websites for parents and children wanting information about drugs and alcohol can be found by clicking on the following links:
Some Section personnel also accompany the DEA (U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration) on raids of elicit/clandestine drug labs, providing technical support in the examination and analysis of the site for chemical and physical hazards, methods of chemical synthesis, and the analysis of source chemicals and finished product.
The DEA also provides important information about drugs in Connecticut at:
BREATH-ALCOHOL TESTING SECTION
The Breath-Alcohol Testing Section is responsible for training and certifying Law Enforcement personnel in breath-alcohol testing procedures employed to screen suspected driving impairments. Additionally, the Section evaluates and maintains certification of the evidential breath-alcohol testing instruments used in the State of Connecticut. In 2003, 11,825 arrests for DUI were made, 8,542 of which were the result of breath tests conducted on state certified devices.
The Breath-Alcohol Testing Section ensures that statewide quality assurance and operational standards are followed by all Law Enforcement agencies administering breath-alcohol tests. Training, equipment, supplies, and laboratory support to state, local and federal authorities are provided, as well as court testimony.
In 2003, 3,181 instructors and operators completed training.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Breath and Alcohol Questions:
1. Are breath tests accurate?
Yes, breath tests are very accurate. They are as accurate as blood tests.
2. What is the purpose of the 20-minute observation?
To allow any residual mouth alcohol to be absorbed.
3. Can dentures affect a breath test? What about tongue rings?
Dentures and tongue rings do not affect the breath test results as long as a twenty- minute observation is performed.
4. Can a penny under the tongue influence the reading?
This belief is incorrect. A penny under the tongue does not contribute or alter the breath reading.
5. If a person has asthma, can they provide a breath sample?
Yes, people with asthma can provide breath samples.
6. Can paint fumes interfere with the breath reading?
No, the Intoxilyzer can detect what is on the breath besides ethyl alcohol and abort the test.
7. If someone has a dose of cough medicine, will it contribute to the reading?
No, a normal dose of cough medicine will not produce a blood alcohol reading.
8. How long does it take to eliminate alcohol?
Average elimination rates range from 0.015 to 0.020 units decrease in the blood alcohol reading per hour.
9. Will coffee, cold showers and exercise help "sober up" someone who has been drinking?
Only the passage of time will "sober up" an individual.