Riley tours DUI testing lab

Published 8:13 pm Monday, November 17, 2008

Gov. Bob Riley on Monday toured the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences’ Implied Consent Laboratory, home to the state’s DUI Breath Alcohol Testing Program.

The program staffs nine scientists who train police to use the testing devices and maintain the equipment. Lab scientists teach more than 200 classes a year, and more than 13,000 law enforcement officers have received training since the program’s inception.

Lab Director Mark Pevey led Riley on a one-hour tour through the narrow office space, and the governor lauded Pevey and his staff for overseeing the state’s 241 DUI test sites.

Breath tests are conducted on the Draeger Alcotest instrument, which is considered to be the best in the field. Test results are accepted as evidence in court, and Pevey said the reliability rate is near perfect.

“We handle all expert testimony. Of the 240,000 tests we’ve done, we’ve only testified 130 times in court,” Pevey said.

At the tour’s conclusion, Riley discussed the number of lives lost as a result of drunk driving, and relayed a stern message to potential offenders.

“Not only are you jeopardizing yourself, you’re jeopardizing every citizen in the state of Alabama,” Riley said. “Don’t even take the chance. Don’t even think you can go out and beat (the breath test). You can’t beat it.”

Riley said 42 percent of all Alabama highway fatalities last year were due to drunk driving. As the holiday travel season approaches, Riley said there will be a heightened trooper presence on Alabama roadways.

In addition, motorists will likely see new blood alcohol testing vehicles, or BAT mobiles, on roadways this season. The BAT mobile allows state troopers to conduct impaired driving tests on site.

Riley said there are nine BAT mobiles statewide, and the vehicles are funded by a $1.4 million grant through the governor’s office.