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Pitt County to speed up DWI testing with proposed grant - Greenville, NC | News | Weather | Sports - WNCT.com

Pitt County to speed up DWI testing with proposed grant

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GREENVILLE, N.C. -

DWI offenders could see justice quicker if the Pitt County Sheriff's office receives a more than $300,000 grant.

It's no secret our state's crime labs are overburdened and that adds to the time it takes to get testing back. Now, the sheriff's office is hoping to bring that testing to Pitt County, namely, blood alcohol testing.

"There are about 200 pending cases right now in Raleigh from Pitt County cases; so you've got 200 samples waiting," said Melissia Larson, Grant Administrator at the Pitt County Sheriff's Office.

It's a wait for blood alcohol testing only getting longer as the SBI crime lab continues to be flooded with case work.

It's a load Pitt County law enforcement is hoping to lighten after receiving tentative approval from county commissioners for $393,643 grant.

Larson says it'll free up the judicial system and put deputies back on the street.

"If you can imagine, you're charged with DWI and it's going to be at least a year until that case is heard because the results are still pending," said Larson.

The grant comes from the North Carolina Governor's Highway Safety Program. It would fund new equipment and an extra chemist to do lab work centered on testing blood alcohol levels in Pitt County.

"We realize the state, they can try as much as they can but they simply don't have the resources and if we can bring the resources locally and we can conduct the test locally, then we think that's going to be a better fit for us," said Larson.

Larson says they hope the additional chemist could take on work from surrounding counties after the first year.

The grant still needs final approval from Washington before any of this can happen.

"We hope this will speed up the judicial process and make the roads safer for Pitt County," said Larson.

The grant would only be for the testing of suspected DWI offenders who have blood samples taken. It does not affect those other cases in which blood weren't taken.

Larson says they hope to get final approval as early as September.

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