Private Labs to Help in DWI & Other Cases

Written by Thom Goolsby


A New Law Authorizes Judges to Assess Fees for Toxicological Testing

For many years, backlogged evidence at the state’s crime lab has been causing headaches for prosecutors across North Carolina. A new law has gone into effect that is aimed at encouraging the private sector to help with lab testing in criminal cases.

Passed last year as Senate Bill 744, the legislation authorizes judges to assess a $600 fee for the cost of private hospital toxicological testing. To make such a finding, a judge must determine that the work performed by a local hospital is the equivalent of the same kind of work performed by the North Carolina State Crime Laboratory.

The fee is to be assessed when a defendant is convicted and a private lab has performed testing for alcohol or controlled substances. The fee goes to pay for the costs of the testing.

An additional $600 fee can be assessed for the services of an expert witness. This cost can only be assessed in cases where the expert witness actually testified in court.

Legislators who passed this law hoped that it would encourage the private sector to provide forensic testing in a timelier manner than the state’s crime lab has been able to do.

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