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Drug Recognition "Experts"

Posted by William Young | Sep 05, 2017 | 0 Comments

Do not plead guilty to a DUI just because a "Drug Recognition Expert" says you were impaired. A Drug Recognition Expert relies heavily on assumptions and judgment calls. These assumptions are frequently not based on fact, which means they could lead to the arrest of a completely innocent individual. With the help of an experienced DUI attorney, you can effectively fight these charges!

A Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) is a law enforcement officer trained to identify people whose driving is impaired by drugs other than, or in addition to, alcohol. The 12 step procedure they follow is called a Drug Influence Evaluation (DIE), to determine which category of drugs is causing the driver to be impaired.

If a DRE determines that a driver is impaired, they will look for indications of the drugs by the common perceivable effects the drugs have on the human body. There are seven categories of classifications a DRE is looking for, including: Central Nervous System (CNS) Depressants, CNS Stimulants, Dissociative Anesthetics, Cannabis, Hallucinogens, Inhalants, and Narcotics.

A DIE involves the following 12 steps (for a detailed description: DECP.org)

  1. Breath Alcohol Test: If the arresting officer reviews breath alcohol test and determines it does not explain the level of impairment they are perceiving, the officer requests a DRE evaluation.
  2. Interview of the Arresting Officer
  3. Preliminary Examination and First Pulse
  4. Eye Examinations
  5. Divided Attention Psychophysical Tests
  6. Vital Signs and Second Pulse
  7. Dark Room Examinations
  8. Examination for Muscle Tone
  9. Check for Injection Sites and Third Pulse
  10. Subject's Statements and Other Observations
  11. Analysis and Opinions of the Evaluator
  12. Toxicological Examination : After completing the evaluation, the DRE normally requests a urine, blood and/or saliva sample from the subject for a toxicology lab analysis.

Truthfully, the "expert" part of Drug Recognition Expert is a misnomer, these are people who are trained to fill out a chart based upon what they see. The chart is supposed to tell them what substance is present. The DIE is a guess! It is subjective and easily manipulated. DREs are not doctors, they have not nurses - in fact, they have little to no medical training at all. The DIE is nowhere near 100% accurate and there are many ways to challenge the DRE's testimony.

About the Author

William Young

Idaho Criminal Defense and Civil Litigation Attorney. Although I do a little bit of everything in my practice, I focus primarily on Criminal Defense and Civil Litigation. I am licensed to practice, and have a record of success, in both state and federal court.

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