Drug Recognition Expert (DRE)

The DRE Program trains police officers and other approved public safety officials as drug recognition experts (DREs).

The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) and the Municipal Police Training Committee are the regulating and credentialing organizations for the DRE program. DRE certification is valid for two years (national). In order to maintain certification, DRE's must conduct a minimum of four evaluations within this time period, submit a rolling log, submit a current resume and attend eight hours of recertification training.

Prerequisites:

  • The candidate MUST be certified in NHTSA-approved SFST (An SFST certificate must accompany their application.) 
  • Candidates must have successfully completed the Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement (ARIDE) course
  • Candidates will need the recommendation of at least one Massachusetts Certified DRE.
  • Students should have endorsement from their chief and/or training supervisor.
  • The candidate must agree to a commitment to the DRE program, and remain certified for a period of at least five years from the time of initial certification.
  • An applicant interview will be conducted prior to the candidate being accepted into the program.

The DRE Program training a three-phase training process:

  1. Drug Recognition Expert Pre-School (16 hours)
  2. Drug Recognition Expert DRE School (56 hours)
  3. Drug Recognition Expert Field Certification (Approximately 40 – 60 hrs)

The training relies heavily on the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFST’s), which provide the foundation for the DEC Program. Once trained and certified, DREs become highly effective officers skilled in the detection and identification of persons impaired by alcohol and/or drugs. DREs are trained to conduct a systematic and standardized 12-step evaluation consisting of physical, mental and medical components.

Because of the complexity and technical aspects of the DRE training, not all police officers may be suited for the training. Experience has shown that training a well-defined group of officers proficient in impaired driving enforcement works well and can be very effective.

Goals and Learning Objectives

The DRE classroom training is designed to assist the student achieve three broad goals and eight specific learning objectives.

Goals:

  1. Determine if an individual is under the influence of a drug or drugs other than alcohol, or the combined influence of alcohol and other drugs, or suffering from some injury or illness that produces similar signs to alcohol/drug impairment;
  2. Identify the broad category or categories of drugs inducing the observable signs and symptoms of impairment; and
  3. Progress to the Field Certification Phase of the training.

Objectives:

  1. Be able to describe the involvement of drugs in impaired driving incidents;
  2. Name the seven drug categories and recognize their effects;
  3. Describe and properly administer the psychophysical and physiological evaluations used in the drug evaluation and classification procedures;
  4. Prepare a narrative drug influence evaluation report;
  5. Discuss appropriate procedures for testifying in typical drug evaluation and classification cases, and;
  6. Maintain up-to-date DRE curriculum vitae.

Additional Resources for Goals and Learning Objectives

DRE Certification Requirements

The following three phases of training must be completed to receive certification as a Drug Recognition Expert:

ACADEMIC TRAINING: This phase is typically conducted over two weeks (80 hours). It includes courses in pharmacology, physiology, vital signs, standardized field sobriety testing (SFST), as well as extensive material on each of the seven categories of the drugs of abuse. The training includes three written examinations, an SFST proficiency examination and five written quizzes. Students must achieve a minimum of 80% on the three examinations, and must demonstrate proficiency in administering the SFST in order to progress to the certification phase. The academic training is conducted utilizing creative, participant-centered teaching techniques.

CERTIFICATION PHASE: After successfully completing the academic portion, the students return to their department assignment. It is the student's responsibility to complete the certification requirements following the DRE school.

These requirements include conducting a minimum of 12 drug influence evaluations while under the supervision of a DRE instructor; identifying subjects under the influence of three of the seven drug categories; and attaining a 75% toxicological confirmation rate. In addition, the student must maintain a progress log, rolling log and submit a quality resume. Finally, the student must pass a comprehensive final knowledge examination, and be recommended for certification by two DRE Instructors.

FINAL KNOWLEDGE EXAM: Before certification as a DRE, the student must successfully pass a final comprehensive written knowledge exam. This exam tests the students knowledge in all areas of the DRE curriculum. Multiple choice, decision making and essays are all part of this final knowledge exam, which generally takes the student 4-6 hours to complete. The student must then obtain the written endorsement of two certified DRE instructors.

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