DA: State crime lab at 'crisis' level with backlog of DUII samples

Doug Marteeny, the Linn County District Attorney, said the state police's crime lab doesn't have the resources it needs.

Posted: Jan 18, 2019 6:23 PM
Updated: Jan 18, 2019 6:27 PM

ALBANY, Ore. -- Oregon State Police's crime lab is facing a backlog of urine samples, and it's allowing criminals to stay on the streets, Linn County's District Attorney said.

Doug Marteeny told KEZI 9 News a lack of resources is to blame. He said the crime lab is at a "crisis" level when it comes to prosecuting driving under the influence of intoxicants (DUII) cases, and he's frustrated it's taking so long to prosecute them.

He said the crime lab does great work, but they just don't have the resources they need to process urine samples in a timely manner. Marteeny said 50 percent of his cases involving DUII are drug related, and right now, it takes about 14 months to get results back. Marteeny said the long wait time to make initial charging decisions is problematic.

"As a prosecutor of 15 years, I’ve had numerous experiences where I’ve sat across the table from family members who've lost loved ones to the hands of drunk drivers and to explain to them why I've got to wait 14 months," Marteeny said. "That's not an easy conversation to have, and that makes you passionate to get this problem fixed."

He said the crime lab needs more money to expedite the process, and that's why the Oregon District Attorney's Association is planning on proposing a bill to lawmakers that would require crime labs to return blood or urine sample testing within 90 days.

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