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Although most DUI or DWI prosecutions historically involve the use of alcohol, these days, police and prosecutors are cracking down on drivers who are suspected to be under the influence of drugs. Police officers called “Drug Recognition Experts” are increasingly using drug recognition evaluations to supposedly detect drugged drivers.

Often, it is difficult for an investigating officer to detect if someone is under the influence of drugs. Certain medical and mental health conditions can incorrectly lead an officer to believe that a driver is under the influence of drugs. In most cases, the officer has no medical training and knowledge of the driver’s medical history. Without this training and information, an officer is merely speculating that a driver is under the influence of a drug or combination of drugs.

Some officers receive training through a course sponsored by the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). This course is called the Drug Evaluation and Classification Program (DEC). Through this training course, an officer learns to administer a 12-step protocol called a “drug recognition evaluation.” When these officers are finally certified, they are erroneously referred to as “drug recognition experts” or DREs. While the DEC course attempts to train an officer to detect drug use through the drug recognition evaluation (dre), most pharmacologists and medical experts agree that this training is entirely inadequate.

Blood testing through gas or liquid chromatography is the more reliable method for detecting the presence of drugs in a driver’s system. If the testing is done properly and a history of the driver’s drug use is provided to a pharmacologist or medical expert, then a proper opinion concerning driving under the influence of drugs can possibly be rendered.

Driving under the influence of a drug cases are never cut-and-dried. Moreover, drug recognition evaluations have been criticized by numerous scientists as being flawed or junk science. Driving under the influence of drug investigations and drug recognition evaluations (dre) should be meticulously examined by a well-trained DUI/DWI attorney, in order to determine what defenses exist to the charges.

By Kevin Leckerman

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