What They Do

A drug recognition expert (DRE), sometimes referred to as a drug recognition evaluator, 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 (IACP) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). A DRE is skilled in detecting and identifying persons under the influence of drugs and in identifying the category or categories of drugs causing the impairment.

The 12 Steps of the Drug Evaluation Process

The 7 Drug Categories

Three determinations of a DRE

A DRE conducts a detailed, diagnostic examination of persons arrested or suspected of drug-impaired driving or similar offenses. Based on the results of the drug evaluation, the DRE forms an expert opinion on the following:

  1. Is the person impaired? If so, is the person able to operate a vehicle safely? If the DRE concludes that the person is impaired…
  2. Is the impairment due to an injury, illness or other medical complication, or is it drug-related? If the impairment is due to drugs…
  3. 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 police precincts, intake centers, troop headquarters or other locations where impaired drivers are transported after arrest. The drug evaluation is not normally done at 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 his 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.