A DRE conducts a detailed, diagnostic examination of persons arrested or suspected of drug-impaired driving or similar offenses. Based on the results of the drug evaluation, the DRE forms an expert opinion on the following:

  1. Is the person impaired? If so, is the person able to operate a vehicle safely? If the DRE concludes that the person is impaired…
  2. Is the impairment due to an injury, illness or other medical complication, or is it drug-related? If the impairment is due to drugs…
  3. Which category or combination of categories of drugs is the most likely source of the impairment?

DREs conduct their evaluations in a controlled environment, typically at police precincts, intake centers, troop headquarters or other locations where impaired drivers are transported after arrest. The drug evaluation is not normally done at roadside and is typically a post-arrest procedure. In many cases, the DRE will be called upon to conduct the evaluation after the driver was arrested by another officer.

The DRE drug evaluation takes approximately one hour to complete. The DRE evaluates and assesses the person’s appearance and behavior. The DRE also carefully measures and records vital signs, and also administers carefully designed psychophysical tests.

The DRE will systematically consider everything about the person that could indicate the influence of drugs. The process is systematic because it is based on a complete set of observable signs and symptoms that are known to be reliable indicators of drug impairment. A DRE never reaches a conclusion based on any one element of the evaluation, but instead on the totality of facts that emerge.

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