What is a “Drug Recognition Expert”?

June 24, 2017

Recently, there has been heightened awareness and media coverage with respect to driving while under the influence of a drug or a combination of a drug and alcohol. These investigations are technically complex, and as it is difficult for investigators to isolate whether the impairment is due to alcohol, drug, or both. A drug recognition expert or drug recognition evaluator (DRE) is a police officer trained to recognize impairment in drivers under the influence of drugs other than, or in addition to, alcohol.

Police agencies across Canada conduct enforcement of drug impaired driving using Drug Recognition Experts (DRE).The Drug Evaluation and Classification Program (DEC) was founded in Los Angeles in the 1970s as police officers were routinely arresting drivers that showed signs of impairment, but who were not under the influence of alcohol.  The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) developed a system where they used Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFST) in conjunction with accepted medical science to determine drug influence. When an individual is suspected of operating a motor vehicle while impaired by drug, they are evaluated based on seven drug categories:

  1. Central Nervous System (CNS) Depressants
  2. Inhalants
  3. Dissociative Anesthetics
  4. Cannabis
  5. Central Nervous System (CNS) Stimulants
  6. Hallucinogens
  7. Narcotic Analgesics

It is crucial that during an evaluation procedure the DRE is confident that the subject is not suffering from another condition which may cause signs of impairment (illness, fatigue, mental condition, etc.).

In Canada, the DRE program was first introduced in British Columbia in October 1995. In July 2008, there were changes to the Criminal Code of Canada with respect to driving while impaired by drug, and the “drug evaluation” was made compulsory by way of a demand by a police officer.

Drivers are required to submit to standardized field sobriety tests that are performed on the road side. If there is evidence of impairment, the driver must accompany the officer to the police station for further evaluation of drug influence by an officer trained in the DRE program.

If you, a loved one, or a friend has been charged driving while under the influence of a drug or a combination of a drug and alcohol, contact Passi & Patel at 647-898-8018 today to speak to one of our Mississauga criminal lawyers and arrange a complimentary case evaluation.

At Passi & Patel, our criminal defence lawyers in Milton, Brampton, and Mississauga understand legal issues can be stressful. Please call us at 905-459-0004 or e-mail us at info@passipatel.com to schedule a free consultation.