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Office of the Chief Medical Examiner

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OCME Forensic Toxicology Department

The Toxicology Laboratory for the District of Columbia, Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME), serves the residents of the District of Columbia and their families. The laboratory provides postmortem toxicological analyses of biological specimens for medical examiner casework. The results of those analyses support OCME by aiding the pathologists in determining the cause and manner of death. In addition, the laboratory offers testing services to local and federal law enforcement agencies in investigating driving under the influence (DUI) and drug-facilitated sexual assault (DFSA) casework. Furthermore, in 2011, the laboratory partnered with the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) and the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) to develop a comprehensive breath alcohol testing program. The Toxicology Unit is comprised of toxicologists, technicians, and administrative staff. The laboratory provides testing for approximately 1,700 cases per year in its state-of-the-art facility. The staff maintains pertinent testing records, case files, and biological evidence samples. In addition, the Unit provides courtroom testimony, which can encompass information pertaining to testing procedures and the interpretation of the analytical results. The staff stays on the cutting edge of technology and drug trends by reading recent literature and participating in scientific meetings and workshops on a routine basis.

It is of the utmost importance that the laboratory provides quality results that are both timely and comprehensive. The American Board of Forensic Toxicology routinely inspects the laboratory and continues to maintain its fully accredited status.

Chief Toxicologist, Samantha Tolliver, Ph.D.


Samantha S. Tolliver, Ph.D., is the Chief Toxicologist at the Washington, DC Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (DC OCME). She was previously employed as the Deputy Chief Toxicologist at the DC OCME and has been used there since 2014. Her fifteen years of toxicology experience include postmortem, driving under the influence, drug-facilitated crime, pre/post-exposure and workplace drug testing. Her testimony experience encompasses civil (family law) and criminal within the States of Texas and Massachusetts, as well as the District of Columbia.

Dr. Tolliver holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Chemistry from West Virginia State University. She earned both her Master of Science in Forensic Science, as well as a Doctorate in Chemistry from Florida International University. She is certified in toxicology from the National Registry of Certified Chemists. Dr. Tolliver has made scientific presentations at the Drug & Alcohol Testing Industry Association, the American Academy of Forensic Scientists and the Society of Forensic Toxicologists (SOFT). Dr. Tolliver is an active member of SOFT and the American Academy of Forensic Sciences.

Breath Alcohol Program

The Breath Alcohol Program is responsible for the certification, calibration, and maintenance of the breath alcohol instrumentation used by the Metropolitan Police Department. The Toxicology Unit currently has certified technicians and a Breath Alcohol Program Manager whose responsibility it is to maintain the evidential and training instruments, training and licensing operators, as well as provide expert courtroom testimony.

Internship Program

The DC Office of the Chief Medical Examiner offers limited unpaid internship opportunities to interested students in graduate or undergraduate programs in death investigation, pathology, toxicology or related sciences. Each request will be evaluated and a response will be sent 15 days after receipt. Acceptance for internship is at the discretion of the Chief Medical Examiner (CME).

For more information in reference to internships, please click the "Educational Information" tab.