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Forensic alcohol laboratory program



The proper conviction and removal of drunk drivers from California's streets and highways provides important public health and safety benefits. In 2008, 1,289 California residents were killed in alcohol-related crashes, and thousands more were injured. In 2008, there were 217,201 DUI arrests.  Chemical testing to determine the concentration of alcohol in the blood of persons involved in traffic violations is a critical component of the State's efforts to control drunk driving. To enforce the state's driving under the influence (DUI) laws, there are 39 local forensic alcohol laboratories that conduct chemical testing of blood, breath, and urine. The legislature designated the Department of Public Health (CDPH) as the specific state agency with specific authority to enforce the law and its regulations.  CDPH's Food and Drug Laboratory Branch's Forensic Alcohol Laboratory Program (FALP) regulates the forensic alcohol laboratories.  The goals of the FALP are to ensure the competency of the 39 local forensic alcohol laboratories, the qualifications of the employees of the laboratories, and the accuracy of breath alcohol testing procedures used by law enforcement agencies.

Compliance with the requirements of the FALP regulations establishes the competence of the laboratories and the scientific validity of the forensic and breath alcohol analysis results, which can then be admitted into evidence in drunk driving cases. Reliable and accurate testing is required by California law enforcement agencies to ensure that drunk drivers are properly convicted and innocent drivers are not prosecuted unjustly because of faulty laboratory testing.

Program Activities

  • Proficiency testing of the laboratories. FALP conducts voluntary proficiency tests in order to evaluate the accuracy of the forensic alcohol analyses performed by the laboratories.  FALP conducts these tests two times per year. 

  • Receive laboratory notifications of intent to perform or stop performing alcohol analysis, current laboratory address and point of contact, current laboratory personnel, current instruments used [cf.. 17 CCR Section 1216 (a), (1) - (4)] 

  • Receive notifications or personnel qualifications (submission of diploma/transcripts, training summaries, qualifying tests, written notification to CDPH  [cf..17 CCR Section 1216.1 (c), (1) - (5)]

  • Receive proof of completion of annual participation in a proficiency test (one tats per analyst per year) [cf..17 CCR Section 1216.1 (d)]

  • Receive and review training programs submitted by the laboratories which are intended to qualify breath alcohol instrument operator's  [cf..17 CCR Section 1217 (a), (1) - (5), and 1217 (c)] . 



Voluntary CDPH Forensic Alcohol Proficiency Test Results

Earlier Statistical Summary Reports  are available upon request.

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Forensic Alcohol Laboratory Program


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