The backlog grew in recent years as the patrol increased its focus on drug trafficking and other crimes in addition to traffic safety.
That meant prosecutors and other authorities were waiting longer for results to confirm what types of drugs were involved in the backlogged cases.
Capt. David Dicken, a director at the lab, said the lab was so overwhelmed that he and another officer had to rearrange storage spaces on their own to squeeze in more drug evidence.
A supervisor at the lab said the backlog peaked at about 4,600 cases in August 2012, and the average processing time was less than five months. Col. Paul Pride, who became the patrol’s superintendent last year, called such turnaround times “absolutely unacceptable.”
The patrol said the backlog is down to about 1,500 cases, with a turnaround time of about three months.
The agency hopes to shrink that to one month.