DPS Crime Lab Accreditation Program
The DPS Crime Lab Accreditation Program was created on September 1, 2003, in Government Code §411.0205. A laboratory or other entity (public or private) conducting forensic analysis of physical evidence must be accredited by DPS in order for that laboratory's evidence or testimony to be admissible in a criminal proceeding. A laboratory may apply to the Director for statutory DPS accreditation if accreditation is required for evidence admissibility under Code of Criminal Procedure Article 38.35. Accreditation is part of a laboratory's quality assurance program, which should also include proficiency testing, continuing education, customer liaison, and other programs to help the laboratory provide more effective overall service.
In order for a laboratory or other entity to receive full DPS accreditation, the laboratory must first be accredited by a recognized accrediting body. However, under certain circumstances, provisional DPS accreditation is available for a limited term. The normal term for DPS accreditation begins on the date of issuance of the initial DPS accreditation letter and extends until withdrawn by the recognized accrediting body or withdrawn by the Director.
DPS-Accredited Labs and Their Associated Disciplines
Recognized Accrediting Bodies
- American Board of Forensic Toxicology (ABFT): Recognized for accreditation of toxicology discipline only.
- American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors, Laboratory Accreditation Board (ASCLD/LAB)--recognized for accreditation of all disciplines that are eligible for accreditation.
- Forensic Quality Services, formerly known as the National Forensic Science Technology Center: Recognized for accreditation of all disciplines that are eligible for accreditation.
- Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (formerly known as the DHHS National Institute on Drug Abuse): Recognized for accreditation of toxicology discipline only in the subdiscipline of Urine Drug Testing for all classes of drugs approved by the accrediting body.
- College of American Pathologists (CAP): Recognized for accreditation of toxicology discipline only.
Disciplines and Subdisciplines Subject to DPS Accreditation
Please Refer to Texas Administrative Code, Title 37, Part 1, Chapter 28, Subchapter I, for the rules for DPS accreditation. The disciplines and subdisciplines that are subject to DPS accreditation are listed by rule in §28.135:
- Controlled substances, including marijuana, precursor analysis, and clandestine laboratory analysis.
- Toxicology, including forensic toxicology, urine drug testing, and blood alcohol analysis.
- Biology, including biology, serology, and DNA.
- Firearms/toolmark, including firearms, ballistics, and toolmarks.
- Questioned documents, including questioned documents, handwriting, and ink analysis.
- Trace evidence, including fire debris, explosives, fibers, gunshot residue, glass, hairs, paint, filaments, and unknown substances.
- Other discipline if approved by a recognized accrediting body and the Director.
Exempted Forensic Analysis
The disciplines and types of testing/activities that have noted exceptions (by statute, by administrative rule, or by determination of the Director) include:
- By Statute:
By Administrative Rule:
- Latent print examination.
- Breath alcohol analysis under Chapter 724, Transportation Code.
- Digital evidence.
- Forensic pathology, not including toxicology or other laboratory associated with the office of a medical examiner.
- Expert examination or test conducted principally for the purpose of scientific research, medical practice, or civil or administrative litigation, and which is typically for a purpose unrelated to determining the connection of physical evidence to a criminal action.
- Presumptive test performed for the purpose of determining compliance with a term or condition of community supervision or parole and conducted by or under contract with a community supervision and corrections department, the parole division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, or the Board of Pardons and Paroles.
By Determination of the Director:
- Act of locating, identifying, collecting, or preserving physical evidence by laboratory or investigative personnel (crime scene search team) unless the activity is integral to an expert examination or test.
- Field, spot, screening, or other presumptive testing unless the activity is integral to an expert examination or test for which an expert opinion is rendered.
- Sexual assault examination of the person.
- Forensic anthropology, entomology, or botany.
- Environmental testing.
- Facial or traffic accident reconstruction.
- Forensic photography.
- Serial number restoration.
- Polygraph examination.
- Voice stress, voiceprint, or similar voice analysis.
- Forensic hypnosis.
- Statement analysis.
- Non-criminal paternity testing.
- Non-criminal testing of human or nonhuman blood, urine, or tissue.
- Viral DNA testing (i.e., HIV). Exempted 01-29-2008.
- Forensic engineering (failure analysis of plastic bags).
- Forensic engineering (examination and analysis of electrical appliances). Exempted 04-25-2011.
- Testing blood samples for the presence of sodium hypochlorite (bleach). Exempted 07-20-2011.
- Bacterial DNA testing (i.e. Haemophilus influenza).
- Testing to determine the presence of feces or the presence of urine (Limited Scope of Testing). Exempted April 18, 2012.
- Testing SmartWater CSI, LLC product (Proprietary product). Exempted September 25, 2013.
Any requests for exemption shall be submitted in writing to the Director. It should include the specific type of testing for which an exemption is being requested, as well as the justification and/or reasoning as to why it should be exempted.
To apply for accreditation, a laboratory shall submit the following items to the Director:
- A completed copy of the Laboratory Accreditation Application Form
(LAB-05) DOC | PDF
- Current accreditation certificate and letter of notification of accreditation from a recognized accrediting body.
- Documentation from the accrediting body that identifies the discipline(s) or subdiscipline(s) for which the laboratory has received accreditation along with any limitations or restrictions.
Copies of any correspondence, reports, and/or communications with recognized accrediting bodies shall be submitted to the Director within 30 days for review. If the laboratory will be discontinuing a service for which it has been accredited, a written notice shall be submitted to the Director at least 30 days prior to the discontinuation. However, if the service is to be terminated immediately, then the lab must notify the Director within five days after the termination. Special reviews (audits, investigations, etc.) may be initiated by DPS as warranted by the Director.
Texas DPS Crime Laboratory Service
Laboratory Quality Assurance
PO Box 4143
Austin, Texas 78765
Phone: (512) 424-2105