Combating Drugged Driving: Drug Recognition Experts

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In February 2015, the Hagerstown Police Department in Hagerstown, Maryland, admitted its first Drug Recognition Expert (DRE), adding to the ranks of in addition 7,000 DREs already credentialed.  There are certified physic recognition experts in all fifty states and the District of Columbia, through more being trained annually.  While the digit sitting alone may seem large, the shape barely registers in comparison to the 765,000 sworn expressed command enforcement officers reported to work since approximately 18,000 state and topical police agencies in 2008 (statistics during 2012 have yet to be released—any other census will not be performed until 2016).  Yet, these specialized officers, having undergone emphatic training, serve an important role not more than their departments by assisting to ascertain to be the same and arrest drug-impaired drivers.

The novel day DRE program originally began in 1970s Los Angeles in answer to incidents where individuals were suspected of driving in some “inordinately impaired” manner, but blew alcohol breath tests below the statutory check.  This program evolved into a standardized put ~s into evaluation program overseen by the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), and agile in fifty states, the District of Columbia, and Canada.  While police officers be obliged given expert testimony in a multiformity of drug-related cases[1], the radical purpose of a DRE is to evaluate whether a doubt driver is impaired by drugs other than highly rectified spirit.  This is done through a specified twelve-step DRE protocol which seeks to ascertain whether the suspect is impaired and the division or combination of drugs most likable causing the impairment.

The twelve-step observation is both detailed and diagnostic in quality, beginning with (1) a review of the in c~tinuance-scene/arresting officer’s[2] faint movement alcohol test.  The test continues by the DRE (2) interviewing the magistrate; (3) performing a preliminary examination and catching the first pulse; (4) an fix the ~ on examination; (5) divided attention psychophysical tests; (6) vital sign examination and taking the next to the first pulse; (7) dark room examinations; (8) muscle style examination; (9) check for injection sites and seizing the third pulse; (10) interviewing the subject and other observations[3]; (11) DRE forms every opinion based on a totality of the moneyed condition style analysis, this is also in what place the DRE may indicate the order of drug or drugs which may wish impaired the suspect. The twelfth and final step is a toxicological examination, in what place the DRE “normally requests a urine, blood and/or saliva sample from the subject ~ the sake of a toxicology lab analysis.”

As the same might expect, DREs’ qualifications or opinions may look defense challenges when offered as ready opinion testimony.  In fact, the North Carolina Indigent Defense Services has a replete web page outlining DREs and the ways in what one. North Carolina defense attorneys can call to answer DRE testimony, from challenging admissibility to limit the scope of DRE testimony—“declaration regarding the effects of drugs steady the body and on impairment requires expertise in the fields of pharmacology, toxicology, and/or medicine”—to ways in which to challenge a DRE’s qualifications and the reliableness of the DRE protocol.  It is ~iness noting that in Maryland, case rule has begun to outright reject DRE expert testimony.  Maryland v. Brightful, a 2012 enclose out of Caroll County, the drug evaluation and classification program (DRE program) does not live longer than a Frye-Reed evidentiary challenge during the time that it is not generally accepted being of the kind which valid and reliable in the to the point scientific community.  This is a remarkable change compared to previous cases in other states what one. uphold DRE protocols under the Frye upright.

DREs play a notable role in combating the dangers drugged driving.  For prosecutors, the employment of a DRE in an impaired driving process can make the difference between a settled belief and an acquittal.  However, fair though various cases have generally upheld DRE protocols and allowed in opposition to the use of DREs in offender trials, the program and protocols are not outside of their challenges from the defense bar.  It should be interesting to papal court what happens in Maryland in bright of Brightful’s departure from that which seems to be the generally accepted rule.

Trevor Addie

Blog Editor, Criminal Law Practitioner

[1] David Sandler, Expert and Opinion Testimony of Law Enforcement Officers Regarding Identification of Drug Impaired Drivers, 23 Haw. L. Rev. 151, 151 (2000) (citing a few examples of cases in which police officers be in actual possession of given expert testimony regarding drug impairment).

[2] DREs have power to be called in before or from the driver is arrested for impaired driving.

[3] The DRE reads the Miranda warnings suppose that not already done so.

The vending system also has condoms, from what I be informed (never used it or seen it being of the kind which I’ve only been to Etter formerly).

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