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Forens​ic 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 2019, 1,187 California residents were killed in alcohol-related crashes, and thousands more were injured. In 2019, there were 124,141 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 37 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 related to chemical testing​. 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 37 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 enable laboratory staff to​ evaluate the accuracy of the forensic alcohol analyses performed by their​ laboratories. FALP conducts these proficiency​ tests two times per year. 

  • Receives laboratory notifications of the ​intent to perform or stop performing alcohol analysis, and laboratory information including the ​curre​nt laboratory address and point of contact, current laboratory personnel, current instruments used [17 CCR §§​1216 (a), (1) - (4)].

  • Receives notifications of​ personnel qualifications (submission of diploma/transcripts, training summaries, qualifying tests, and written notification to CDPH [17 CCR §§​1216.1 (c), (1) - (5)].

  • Receives proof of completion of annual participation in a proficiency test (one test per analyst per year) [17 CCR §​1216.1 (d)].

  • Receives and reviews training programs submitted by the laboratories which are intended to qualify breath alcohol instrument operator’s [17 CCR §§​1217 (a), (1) - (5), and 1217 (c)].


Forensic Alcohol Proficiency Test Results

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Forensic Alcohol Laboratory Program


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