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Forensic Sci Int. 2008 Mar 21;176(1):34-7. Epub 2007 Nov 8.

Segmental hair analysis in order to evaluate driving performance.

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Department of Legal Medicine & Public Health, University of Pavia, via Forlanini 12, 27100 Pavia, Italy.


On the 31st of July 2002 the Lombardy local government issued a memorandum, C.R. 35/SAN, providing "guidelines to investigate drugs of abuse addiction in order to judge driving performance". About hair samples, this memorandum advises that the proximal lock of 6 cm-length would be analysed for opiates, cocaine, cannabinoids, amphetamine and derivatives, divided into two segments of 3 cm each. The Local Medical Driving Licence Commissions (CML) can decide whether or not to enforce these instructions; from our survey it resulted that most CMLs do not abide by the memorandum, not requiring segmental analysis. The purpose of our study was to verify whether this procedural discordance could affect analytical results and, consequently, the evaluation of the subject's driving performance. We analysed hair samples taken from subjects who were requesting the renewal of their driving licence in our Laboratory during the period from 1 August 2002 to 31 December 2006. We divided samples into two groups: (1) samples previously analysed in one single segment which resulted positive for at least one analyte, but under the cut-off (0.5 ng/mg), were re-analysed in accordance with the guidelines; (2) samples previously processed following guidelines which resulted positive in one of the segments were newly analysed in a single segment. Comparing the new results with the original ones, an increase of positive results emerged in the first group. The second set of results fully supported the first ones. These results underscore the importance of the 35/SAN memorandum, so if the guidelines had been followed there would have been a larger amount of driving licence renewal denied.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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