Drug Recognition Expert
Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) police officers are trained to be able to identify drug impaired drivers. DRE refers not only to the officers themselves, but to the 12-step procedure that these officers use. DRE was developed by police officers from the Los Angeles (California) Police Department. In 1979, the Drug Recognition program received the official recognition of the LAPD. As of 2005, approximately 6000 police officers are certified as Drug Recognition Experts. Certification is issued by the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) .
12 Steps of the Drug Evaluation Process
- Breath Alcohol Test - A sample of breath is taken from the test subject to determine the concentration of alcohol, if any, in the test subject.
- Interview of Arresting Officer - The DRE consults with the investigator(s) to determine the circumstances leading up to the apprehension of the test subject.
- Preliminary Examination - Initial examination of the subject. Some questions are asked in relation to the subject's medical/physical limitations.
- Eye Examination - Eyes are examined for pupils being equal, the ability of the eyes to track a stimulus equally, to monitor the smoothness of that tracking, to look for Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus, as well as Vertical Gaze Nystagmus.
- Divided Attention Tests - One Leg Stand is done with both legs. Walk and Turn test is done. Modified Romberg Balance test. And Finger to Nose test is done.
- Examination of Vital Signs - Blood pressure, pulse and body temperature is taken.
- Dark Room Examinations - Examination of the pupil sizes in near total darkness, under direct light, and in normal room light. Examination of the oral and nasal cavities are done at the same time.
- Examination of Muscle Tone - Flexion and Extension of the muscles are tested, to see if there is flaccidity, or rigidity of the muscles.
- Examination of Injection Sites - Examination of common injection sites to determine if the subject is using injected substances.
- Suspects Statements / Other Observations - Soliciting information from the test subject which will corroborate signs and symptoms that the evaluator has observed.
- Opinion of the Evaluator - The DRE makes a determination of the class or classes of drugs that a subject is under the influence based on a matrix of symptomology that has been developed during studies of subjects under the influence of known classes of drugs.
- The Toxicological Examination - Blood, saliva or urine is obtained by demand, which is analyzed to determine what class of substances are present that corroborates the DRE's opinion.
7 Drug Categories
- Central Nervous System Depressants
- Dissociative Anesthetics
- Central Nervous System Stimulants
- Narcotic Analgesics
- Important notes about categorization: The DRE program categorizes substances based on their effects on the central nervous system (CNS) rather than chemical structure, scheduling, or legal status. An example of this would be having the drug MDMA (MethyleneDioxyMethAmphetamine) in the Hallucinogens category when someone outside the program might call it a CNS stimulant. MDMA does have strong stimulant properties, but also causes hallucinations in its users, which is one of the chief reasons for its abuse. Hence, for DRE purposes it is an Hallucinogen. Additionally, the DRE program classifies some substances as "drugs" that are not commmonly thought of in society as such. A good example of this could be found in the Inhalants category of drugs in paint, gasoline, and lacquer thinner, which affect the CNS.
Also, the DRE program does not consider some substances to be drugs that society would classify as a drug. An example of this would be acetaminophen (Tylenol). It is commonly used to relieve body aches and improve the human condition. However, it is not recognized as a drug within the program because it is not psychoactive (affecting CNS function) and would not be considered a "drug".
- LAPD Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) Homepage
- International Drug Evaluation and Classification Program (DECP)
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