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What is a DRE (Drug Recognition Expert)?

In both Missouri and Kansas, it is unlawful to drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. To determine if you are breaking the law, police have access to tools, such as the Breathalyzer. This tool can measure the amount of alcohol in your blood. However, the process to determine if a driver is under the influence of drugs and if the drugs have caused impaired driving, is more challenging.

In the later part of the 1970s, the Drug Recognition Expert or DRE program was created by the Los Angeles Police Department. The program was set up to help officers learn how to determine if a driver was under the influence of drugs. Today, this program is used by police officers in Missouri and Kansas.

The DRE Program Explained

After an arrest is made for someone suspected of DUI or DWI, a DRE is called to figure out if the individual is under the influence of drugs. This DRE officer will follow a very specific 12-step process to figure out if a person has been using drugs and to identify the drugs that have been used.

How a DRE May Impact Your Case

A determination made by a DRE officer of the use of drug isn’t an automatic guilty verdict. It is just the opinion of one individual.

However, the DRE is going to work with the police officers and prosecutors to increase the likelihood that the individual arrested will be convicted of the DUI or DWI they were charged with. If you find yourself in this situation, it’s a good idea to contact an attorney right away. Someone who is familiar with the DRE 12-step process will be able to challenge the accuracy of the opinion of the DRE and may even be able to successfully undermine the accuracy of the toxicology testing done.

Have the Methods Used by the DRE Been Scientifically Validated?

According to information from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, if a DRE made the claim that drugs (excluding alcohol) were present in a person’s system, 94 percent of the time there was a drug detected. For specific drugs, the success levels were:

  • CNS Stimulants – 33 percent
  • Depressants – 50 percent
  • PCP – 92 percent
  • Cannabis – 78 percent
  • Narcotic Analgesics – 85 percent

Call an Attorney for Help with Your Case

If you have been evaluated by DRE and it was determined that you were under the influence of drugs, contact Kitchin Law for help with your case. The attorney can evaluate the situation and figure out what they can do to help disprove the conclusions made by DRE. While there is no legal requirement for you to hire an attorney in these situations, it is a smart move and one that may help you avoid more severe consequences for the DUI or DWI charge that you are facing.


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