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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — For the first time this fall, new magistrates will tour the New Mexico Department of Health's Scientific Laboratory, seeing how its toxicology division operates and how it does testing in driving-while-intoxicated cases.
"With the emphasis on DWI and the complexity of drug testing and all the issues that have come down from the Supreme Court, it's thrown the lab in the judges' faces more than it has in the past," said lab director David Mills. "So this is a real good opportunity to help them deal with it."
New Mexico has long been among states with the nation's worst drunken driving problems, ranking 11th in 2008 for the number of DWI fatalities per 100,000 population.
New magistrates elected Nov. 2 will receive two weeks of orientation in late November, and they'll spend one day of that at the Scientific Laboratory in Albuquerque.
The idea of seeing how the lab works "is not to presuppose guilt or innocence ... but to give judges the background so they will understand what they see in court," said Pamela Lambert, director of the Judicial Education Center at the University of New Mexico, which does training for judges.
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