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What is a DRE in Massachusetts?

Posted on : March 20, 2019, By:  Tom Kokonowski, Esq.
Attorney for OUI Charges in Northampton

Driving Under The Influence Of Alcohol And Drugs

Despite the legalization of medical and recreational cannabis in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, it still remains against the law to drive under the influence of alcohol and drugs. While a breathalyzer test can be conducted at the scene to determine levels of alcohol impairment, no such test exists for cannabis or any other drug.

This prompted Massachusetts and many other states who have also legalized cannabis to employ what are known as “drug recognition experts.” Here’s what you need to know about DRE’s and how to get help if you were arrested for DUI of drugs.

What Is a Drug Recognition Expert?

A drug recognition expert, or DRE, is a police officer that has received special training to be able to identify when a person is driving under the influence of certain drugs. Allegedly, DREs are able to not only tell if a person is intoxicated by drugs, but which out of 12 substances they are intoxicated by.

How Can a DRE Tell What Drugs a Person is On?

A drug recognition expert is called in after an arrest when the arresting officer believes the driver to be impaired but is unsure by what. The DRE will complete a 12-step process, which includes:

  • interviewing the arresting officer about his or her observations
  • taking the driver’s pulse and blood pressure (usually multiple times)
  • interviewing the driver about their health, diet, and medications
  • checking for evidence of drugs on the driver, such as looking for white powder around the nose or injection marks on the arms
  • checking muscle tone and the reaction of pupils to light
  • checking body temperature

Allegedly, certain drugs produce certain reactions — e.g., cannabis allegedly causes the pupils to become dilated and a lack of convergence, but not horizontal or vertical nystagmus. CNS depressants, however, cause the opposite.

What is the Problem with DRE’s?

There are numerous problems with DRE’s that increase the instances of false arrest and conviction, including:

  • Drug recognition experts only receive about 80 hours of training, or two weeks.
  • Drug recognition criteria can be attributed to multiple factors. For example, a person’s blood pressure and pulse can be high simply from the stress of being pulled over and interrogated.
  • The tests are largely inaccurate because they are reliant on human observation, which is prone to error

Arrested for DUI of Drugs? Contact Thomas Kokonowski Today

If you were arrested, interrogated by a DRE, and charged with DUI of drugs, you need comprehensive legal advocacy. Thomas Kokonowski knows how to handle the “evidence” provided by DRE’s and can help increase the chances that the charges are dismissed or reduced. Call now for a consultation at 413-585-9200.