Detection of Drugs in 275 Alcohol-positive Blood Samples of Korean Drivers

Recent Periodical Literature:  by Viktor Naumovski

This article is about a study examining blood samples that tested positive for alcohol in drivers involved in accidents tested for traces of other substances. In Korea, out of a total of 223,656 traffic accident cases 29,093 were found to involve alcohol, roughly 13% of the total accidents.  Drunk driving, despite many countries having laws and strong consequences for it, has been prevalent around the world and often alcohol is paired up with other abused substances. To better understand the frequency of drug presence in traffic accidents that alcohol was found in the blood, 275 blood samples were taken from drivers that tested positive to alcohol from November and December in 2011.  These samples were stored at -20 degrees Celsius until testing, during which the ethanol content in the samples was quantified by Gas Chromatography (GC) using a headspace method. To test for drugs, a biochip array analyzer called Evidence Investigator was used to screen the samples and Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS) was used to confirm the samples that tested positive in the screen. Following the GC-MS examination the drugs were identified with a newly developed software called DrugMan.  This method allowed testing for 49 different drugs which included 10 antidepressants, 7 antihistamines, and 32 controlled drugs including Benzodiazepines, Anorectics, Morphine, Codeine, and other commonly abused controlled substances.

The results from the alcohol concentration testing ranged from .011% to .249%, with an average of .119%, with 11 cases having under .050% which is within the legal limit in Korea. From the retention times and the Mass Fragment Ions for each drug from controlled tests, there were 14 samples that were detected to have drugs, with the common drugs found being Chlorpheniramine and Benzodiazepines, and a few general drugs including ibuprofen, lidocaine, and topiramate found as well. Cannabis is the second most abused drug in Korea, but the testing fell below the cutoff in the assay so the test was not performed for the GC-MS testing.  The results of this experiment are useful in understanding the frequency of driving under the influence under certain drugs in the presence of alcohol and plans to further testing include analyzing blood samples without alcohol obtained from drivers in accidents.

Kim, Eunmi, Sanggil Choe, Juseon Lee, Moonhee Jang, Hyeyoung Choi, and Heesun Chung. “Detection of Drugs in 275 Alcohol-positive Blood Samples of Korean Drivers.” Forensic Science International 265 (2016): 186-92. Web. doi:10.1016/j.forsciint.2016.02.030

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