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Drug Recognition Evaluators and Drug Evaluations: What You Need to Know

If you are stopped by the police and the officer suspects you are driving under the influence of drugs, you could be required to submit to a drug evaluation by a drug recognition evaluator (DRE). Typically, the officer will transport you to the regional police department will you will be evaluated and interviewed by the DRE.

The DRE is trained to look for signs of impairment from drug usage covering various drug categories including:

  • Marijuana
  • Inhalants
  • Narcotics
  • Depressants
  • Hallucinogens
  • Stimulants
  • Anesthetics

The DRE will conduct various tests on the suspect to determine whether drugs are causing their impairment. Unfortunately even with training, DREs can and do make mistakes. They could easily overlook suspected impairment being caused by other conditions, such as illnesses, mental conditions, fatigue, and so on.

History of DREs

DREs were originally created by the Los Angeles Police Department in the United States in the 1970s.1 The Los Angeles police were encountering suspects that appeared impaired but were not under the influence of alcohol. However, the police suspected these drivers were impaired by drugs, but had no method to test for drug impairment.

Eventually, as the use of DREs spread throughout the states, they made their way to Canada. The first DREs in Canada began in October 1995 in British Columbia.2From there, they slowly spread across all provinces.

DREs and the Law

With changes to driving under the influence laws in 2008, the use of DREs has become more standardized by many police agencies across the country. These changes made it mandatory for a driver to submit to a drug evaluation when one was demanded by an officer of the law.

If you refuse, or initially agree to a drug evaluation, but later refuse upon reaching the police station, then you could still be charged with a “refusal to provide a sample” offence.This type of offence carriers with it the same penalties as an impaired driving offence if you are convicted and found guilty.

However, the drug evaluation tests the DRE performs can be rather complex. It some cases the DRE has to use their own personal judgements to decide whether a driver is impaired by drugs. If they assume the driver is, but fail to perform any actual drug screening tests, one could mistakenly be charged with impaired driving while under the influence of drugs.

It is for these reasons, you should never assume you do not have any options. Even if drug screening was performed, there could be other defences that could be used to fight the charges. For instance, you were not informed of your legal rights by the police officer.

If you or someone you care about has been charged with driving under the influence of drug, you need to speak to Toronto criminal defence lawyer, Jeff Hershberg immediately. Call 416-428-7360 now for a free consultation!

 

Sources:

  1. http://www.decp.org/drug-recognition-experts-dre/
  2. http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/ts-sr/dre-ert-eng.htm