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...and How Does "An Encounter With A Drug Recognition Expert (DRE)" Affect My DWI Charges

 

Instead of a dry, boring article, the following is an excerpt from a recent interview
with Attorney Leckerman on the subject.

Interviewer: But the person being arrested in New Jersey can refuse even if the DRE asks them for a urine sample?

Kevin Leckerman: Yes, that’s right. The DRE, or drug recognition examination, is also something that a driver can absolutely refuse to participate in. There’s no obligation. Unfortunately, most drivers will agree to participate in the drug recognition examination. They seem to believe that they have that obligation to continue to cooperate with the police and by cooperating, somehow, the case may go away or the police officer will go easier on the person. Typically, the contrary is the case. When a person cooperates, this only helps build a case for the police against the driver that they may not have had before the cooperation was given.

Interviewer: Will a person know that an officer is a DRE. Does the officer identify themselves as such or does someone in custody have to figure it out for themselves?

Kevin Leckerman: Most police officers won’t specifically identify themselves as DREs. They’ll just tell drivers that they want to do a follow-up examination while they’re at the police station. A driver typically understands and realizes that what’s going on at the police station is definitely unusual. The reason for that is a DRE will take them into a dark room and start looking at their eyes. They’ll be asked to participate in additional field sobriety tests. The DRE will start taking blood pressure and pulse. They will start looking at the person’s mouth and seeing if there’s any indication of some type of recent drug ingestion. Then they’re going to be asked a whole bunch of questions about medical history and any injuries. So, that’s definitely a different type of investigation.

Interviewer: It sounds like in the cases where someone has been duped into letting a DRE examine them, then they’re definitely going to need someone with specific experience in dealing with drugs and DWI, right?

Kevin Leckerman: Absolutely. In New Jersey, because there is not a no tolerance drug law in place, DRE’s are typically used to try to make this link between the drug and somebody’s inability to drive a vehicle. What the DREs start to do through this process, or through this examination, is frightening. They build a list of symptoms that they’re looking for, in order to narrow down the type of drug that a person may have been taking.

There are seven different drug categories that the DRE has been trained to look for, through this extensive, usually an hour long, examination. They’re trying to narrow down they’re choices to one of the seven drug categories. However, at times they’re even going to make some type claim that the person is under the influence of multiple types of drugs.

For instance, they’re going to say that a person is under the influence of Percocets and Marijuana, or Xanax and Alcohol. Things of that nature. A driver will definitely need to have somebody involved to pick apart the drug recognition examination as not being a valid measure of somebody’s drug intoxication. You also want to have somebody who is familiar with every single aspect of the DRE process.

By Kevin Leckerman

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