Drug Recognition Experts (DRE)

This program is dedicated to saving lives by identifying  drug abusers & removing the drug impaired  driver from our roadways. This includes illegal drugs as well as legal drugs used in an illegal manner.

drugrecognitionexpertsdrelogo.jpgWhat is a DRE?

The DRE program enables the officers to determine whether an individual is under the influence of drugs, and then to determine the category of drug causing the observable impairment.  More importantly, the DRE procedure enables the DRE to rule out (or in) many medical conditions, such as illness or injury, that may be contributing to the impairment. Although the primary focus of the DRE procedure is to identify the person driving under the influence (DUI), the procedures have been applied to Health and Safety Code violations, probation, parole, drugs in the workplace issues, and other areas such as the School Resource Program wherever accurately identifying the drug-impaired individual is relevant.

For example, a police officer stops a vehicle for suspicion of DUI. However the officer does not detect the odor of an alcoholic beverage or only a very slight odor. The driver is given standard field sobriety tests which indicates to the officer that the driver is intoxicated and should not be driving a motor vehicle. The driver is then taken into custody and transported to the Ada County Jail.. The driver is given a breath test which results in zero readings or readings under the legal limit and not consistent with the drivers indicated impairment. At this point the officer would call for a DRE. It would be the DRE's job to determine whether the drivers impairment was due to a medical condition or whether a result of drugs and if so what category.

DRE History

The present program came from work done by the Los Angeles Police Department in the late 1970s. Two Officers of the LAPD noticed a need for identifying subjects under the influence of drugs other than alcohol. Together with doctors and researchers a systematic and standardized method of evaluating subjects was developed. Officers of the LAPD were trained on this system and soon learned to distinguish the difference between subjects under the influence of drugs and someone with a medical condition which might cause the impairment seen. The Officers were also able to tell what category of drug the suspect was under the influence of. 

About ten years later the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), impressed with LAPDs success,  conducted research relating to the validation of the DRE program. In 1984, NHTSA and the National Institute on Drug Abuse sponsored a laboratory study which showed that LAPD DREs were highly accurate in identifying drug dosed subjects as impaired and in identifying the class of drug involved. A later field evaluation showed that DREs were almost always correct when they judged that a suspect had used drugs other than alcohol and were able to correctly identify at least one drug class in 87 percent of the persons they evaluated. Because of the favorable results in the studies, NHTSA, in conjunction with the LAPD, developed and tested a standard curriculum to train DREs. Later the international Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) became the national certifying agency for DREs and instructors. Nationwide, there are 38 states plus the District of Columbia with DRE programs resulting in the certification of over 3,700 officers.

The Boise Police Department joined the national program in August of 1996. A group of  7 dedicated  Boise Police Officers were selected  to attend the first school  along with officers from Ada County Sheriffs and Idaho State Police. The officers were selected based on the results of a Pre School class which tested there aptitude for the course of study. The classes and field testing was completed in November of 1996 and the officers were issued their certification. The highly trained Boise Police DRE officers have played an important role in public safety in Boise since.