What Is a Certified Drug Recognition Expert in Oklahoma?
In Oklahoma, certain law enforcement officers trained as “Certified Drug Recognition Experts” may assess drivers’ impairment at the roadside or the police station. While these “experts” do receive education and information on spotting impaired drivers, there are ways to challenge their expertise in court.
What Is a Certified Drug Recognition Expert (DRE)?
The state recognizes law enforcement officers who have completed the Drug Evaluation and Classification Program’s (DECP) training as Certified Drug Recognition Experts. This training has specific educational requirements for certification. The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) established these requirements.
In other words, certified DREs take some classes about drugs and substances, pass two written tests, and do some drug evaluations under supervision before receiving the certification. The classes include “case preparation, courtroom testimony, and Curriculum Vitae (C.V.) preparation”. DREs learn not just how to assess if someone is impaired, but also how to present their findings in the best possible light in court. Proponents of the DRE program say that it gives law enforcement the ability to assess drivers’ impairment by substances beyond just alcohol.
Will a DRE Impact Your DUI Defense?
If law enforcement employed a DRE to evaluate you for impairment after a DUI or drug stop, you can attack the DRE’s credibility in court. The prosecution will likely call the DRE to testify in court that you met criteria for impairment by drugs or other substances. This can be used to make a case for DWI even if you did not blow a high BAC level on a breathalyzer.
To respond, you will need to discredit the DRE’s testimony. Many DREs have no training in impairment recognition beyond the brief classes described above. Further, supposed evidence of impairment is often very subjective – a DRE may unwittingly exaggerate your behavior to find impairment. These issues and more may come together during a hearing or trial to help your case.
Lawyers who understand the certified DRE curriculum and program can effectively challenge DRE testimony. If you do not have a lawyer for your DUI or DWI, seek out one with the knowledge you need today.
Need legal help in your DUI or DWI case? Clint Patterson, Esq., of Patterson Law Firm, a former Tulsa prosecutor now using his trial experience and expert-level knowledge of DUI science to defend drivers, assesses his clients’ best options for defenses and sentencing. To schedule a case evaluation, visit Patterson Law Firm online or call Clint’s office at (918) 550-9175.