What is a DRE? How do cops arrest for DWI on prescription drugs?

What is a DRE?

Police officers can obtain the credentials of a pharmacologist in 2 weeks!  The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) believes they have devised a training curriculum that qualifies police officers to examine drivers for a limited list of signs, follow a list of check boxes, and diagnose intoxication based on various drugs or medications.  The IACP determined on its own that these special officers will be deemed forensic “experts” by the courts.  IACP decided that these cops will wear a pin on their shirts with “DRE” and they will identify themselves as a “Drug Recognition Expert.”  These officers are used by prosecutors to attempt to prove DWI defendant’s are impaired on drugs- even when they have not been drinking or are under the legal limit of 0.08.

From where did DRE originate?

The DRE scheme started among a few LAPD officers in the 1980’s.  No scientists, physicians, or toxicologists were involved.  Two Los Angeles cops who had experience dealing with people who they believed to be under the influence of various drugs and medications decided to try to organize a system to detect drug influence.  They looked up symptoms in various books and ultimately a check list was developed to narrow symptoms down into seven categories of drugs.  Even though many of the symptoms were the same between different drugs and many “symptoms” were consistent with drug free people, the DRE was on its way.

Is the DRE supported by scientific research?

Law enforcement advocates have tried to orchestrate research results that are flattering of the results of police DWI arrest decisions based on the DRE.  Sadly, some experiments have been published in peer reviewed journals that have misleading results.  The true predictive validity of the DRE scheme with regard to drug based impairment is dreadful.  Not a single published study has confirmed the ability of police DREs to differentiate drug impaired persons from persons who take medication responsibly and are not impaired.

Written by

Jim Medley

For more than 20 years, attorney Jim Medley has perfected his craft in the field of criminal justice. He garnered extensive knowledge during his 12 years as a police officer in Texas, and applied that knowledge during his time as a professor of criminal law and criminal justice. Mr. Medley brings a unique skill set to the table, and as a result, he would be an invaluable asset in the courtroom should you need DWI or criminal defense in Houston.

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