Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) Program

Police Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) PatchA Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) is an individual who has successfully completed all phases of the Drug Evaluation and Classification Program's (DECP) training requirements for certification as established by the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. A DRE is skilled in detecting drivers under the influence of drugs other than alcohol and in identifying the kind(s) of drugs causing the impairment.

The Grand Blanc Township Police Department was only the third law enforcement agency in Michigan to employ the DRE Program. The department has utilized DREs since 2009 and within that time the DRE Program has had a significant impact on reducing the incidence of operating while intoxicated (OWI) within the township through the education of non-DRE officers, the community, and the enforcement efforts of the department as a whole. We currently have three DREs on staff and are one of the very few agencies within Michigan to have more than one. Additionally, two of these officers are credentialed as DRE instructors.

Evaluation Process

A DRE conducts a detailed, diagnostic examination of persons arrested for impaired driving, but whose breath alcohol result is low or zero. In most cases, the DRE is utilized when an arrested driver's breath alcohol result is little to none or there is any crash involving a serious injury or fatality. Based on the results of the drug evaluation, the DRE forms an expert opinion on the following:

  • Is the person impaired? If so, is the person able to operate a vehicle safely? If the DRE concludes that the person is impaired…
    • Is the impairment due to an injury, illness, or other medical complication, or is it drug-related? If the impairment is due to drugs…
      • Which category or combination of categories of drugs is the most likely source of the impairment?

DREs conduct their evaluations in a controlled environment, typically at a police station, jail, or another facility where impaired drivers are transported after arrest. The drug evaluation is not normally done at the roadside and is typically a post-arrest procedure.

In some cases, the person evaluated will be a driver the DRE personally arrested. In many cases, however, the DRE will be called upon to conduct the evaluation after the driver was arrested by another officer. The DRE is requested to assist in the investigation because of their special expertise and skills in identifying drug impairment.

The DRE drug evaluation takes approximately one hour to complete. The DRE evaluates and assesses the person's appearance and behavior. The DRE also carefully measures and records vital signs and makes precise observations of the person's automatic responses and reactions. The DRE also administers carefully designed psychophysical tests to evaluate the person's judgment, information processing ability, coordination, and various other characteristics. The DRE will systematically consider everything about the person that could indicate the influence of drugs. Additionally, a DRE's opinion is either corroborated or refuted by evidentiary blood test results from an independent state police lab, which accompany each arrest.