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Colorado's DRE Program and Drugged Driving

When police decide to pull someone over on the suspicion of DUI, there are several things they must do when making the traffic stop. Most police officers have extensive experience with drivers that are under the influence of alcohol, and know what tell-tale signs will be present.

However, if the officer suspects that a motorist is drugged driving, there are special procedures that must be used. Most officers do not have sufficient training to determine if a person has been driving under the influence of drugs.

Once an officer suspects that a person is drugged driving, he or she will call for a special drug recognition expert (DRE) to come to the scene. DREs are officers that have special training in determining whether or not a motorist is under the influence of drugs. Often, they work with county sheriff's departments or as members of the Colorado State Patrol.

There are over 400 DREs in Colorado that have completed the training, with over 170 active officers, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation. Like with other states, officers are trained according to the International Standards of the Drug Evaluation and Classification Program.

This means that there are certain steps a DRE must follow when investigating someone for being under the influence of drugs. Officers will usually start with a test that measures a suspected drugged driver's pupil response. They may examine an individual for signs of drug use, such as track marks on arms. They will also question the motorist to determine if he or she is on any medications or has used any drugs recently.

One of the major challenges facing DREs is that there are so many different types of drugs that a motorist may use, and each one of these drugs may cause different reactions. This can be potentially problematic because of the great discretion given to a DRE. They are the ones who can order tests to determine what drugs are present in an individual's system. Without the tests, it might be impossible to show that a person was driving under the influence of drugs.

Source: Colorado Department of Transportation "Drug Recognition Experts"

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