Washington State DUI

DRE Standards of Agency Participation

Washington State Drug Recognition Expert



Standards for Certification as a Drug Recognition Expert

Standards for Certification as Drug Recognition Expert Instructor

Standards for Recertification

Standards for Decertification of DREs & Instructors

Standards for Reinstatement of a Decertified Drug Recognition Expert

Standards for Agency Participation



Since 1986, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has endeavored to expand the Drug Evaluation and Classification Program. In an effort to contain costs, ensure the most efficient use of resources and maintain a high probability of program success, NHTSA developed site selection criteria to be used in assessing potential suitability of sites. Factors such as demographics, favorable legislation, agency operations and system support for the program are considered in evaluating potential sites for the implementation of the Drug Evaluation and Classification Program.

It is recognized that law enforcement agencies, in considering the implementation of new traffic enforcement programs, must be aware of both short- and long-term costs that are involved. In order for the program to achieve maximum results, the Drug Evaluation and Classification Program requires that agencies commit considerable resources long term to the detection and apprehension of the drug-impaired driver.

6.1 A DEC Program site should be a state, a political subdivision of a state, or a group of subdivisions.

Commentary: Experience has shown that a DEC Program will take firm root only if the resources to support the program are concentrated in a relatively small geographical area, such as a major city or county. Given that these new sites will begin operations with a small cadre of DREs, a community-focused DEC Program will allow the DREs to respond quickly to the location(s) where drug-impaired drivers might be taken for processing. By concentrating its forces, the program can ensure that a qualified DRE is available at any time or place needed. The concentrated focus of a community-based program allows the DREs ample opportunity to conduct evaluations and maintain skills at peak proficiency.

6.2 A proposed program site should be able to produce enough drug-impaired driving arrests to (1) justify the expense of training the DREs, and (2) provide enough evaluation opportunities for DREs to maintain proficiency.

Commentary: Studies indicate that up to 40 percent of the persons arrested for impaired driving are actually under the influence of drugs, either alone or in combination with alcohol. Thus, a site should produce an adequate number of DUI arrests annually per DRE to provide ample drug evaluation opportunities.

6.3 Prior to implementation of a DEC Program, a site should be located in a state with an implied consent law that

• Explicitly allows the chemical test sample to be analyzed to determine the presence and/or concentration of drugs other than alcohol;
• Explicitly indicates that the “consent” applies to multiple tests, i.e., that the person is “deemed to have given consent to a test or tests of blood, breath or urine”; and
• Empowers the arresting officer and/or the law enforcement agency to select the types of chemical tests to be taken, rather than giving the suspect the option of choosing the tests.

In the absence of an implied consent law, a site must certify that the above three criteria are met and apply to the Technical Advisory Panel for consideration for acceptance to the program.

Commentary: It is pointless to evaluate drivers for drug-induced impairment unless those found to be so impaired can be prosecuted successfully. The requirements for multiple chemical tests are essential because both a breath test and blood or urine tests are integral components of the drug recognition process. In addition to implied consent legislation, the effectiveness of DEC programs is greatly enhanced by legislation that

• Allows the fact of a suspect’s refusal to submit to the chemical test to be introduced as evidence in court; and
• Makes it an offense to drive under the influence of any drug.

6.4 At least eighty percent (80%) of a participating agency’s traffic law enforcement officers must be fully trained and proficient in the use of the IACP/NHTSA-approved standardized field sobriety tests, including the horizontal gaze nystagmus test.

Commentary: It is recommended that the agency’s SFST training program is consistent with the IACP/NHTSA model curriculum. In particular, the training must contain the specified number of hours and include at least two approved alcohol workshops.

6.5 Participating agencies must maintain accurate and timely records of

· Alcohol and drug-related arrests and convictions;
· Alcohol and drug offense processing time;
· All toxicological examinations; and
· All drug recognition evaluations to include documenting and collecting of basic data which includes, but is not limited to, the name and age of arrestee, date of arrest, sex, the DRE opinion, and the name of evaluator.

Commentary: In order to evaluate critically the effectiveness of the Drug Evaluation and Classification Program, it is necessary that, at a minimum, the above records be maintained. In addition to evaluation purposes, the records may prove beneficial in establishing program validity for court purposes. The IACP and NHTSA has endorsed a data collection software program which DECP states are encouraged to use.

6.6 Participating agencies should have the capability to establish centralized booking or processing of all DUI arrestees.

Commentary: The ideal situation is one in which all persons arrested for DUI are taken to a single location for processing. One or two DREs could then be stationed at that location to ensure prompt access to all suspects apprehended for drug-impaired driving. However, it is feasible for a jurisdiction to have a few centralized processing facilities as long as there are enough DREs to staff them adequately and enough DUI arrests to ensure that the DREs conduct frequent evaluations.

6.7 Each location where DRE evaluations are conducted must have adequate facilities, including

• A room sufficiently large to permit unobstructed administration of the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests;
• A separate room that can be completely darkened for the eye examination;
• Storage space for test data forms, reference documents, blood pressure kits, etc;
• Access to breath testing equipment producing on-the-spot results; and
• Facilities and materials for collecting blood and/or urine samples.

Commentary: Because of the unique requirements of the DEC Program, it is sometimes more economical for several agencies within a site to share DUI processing facilities. Other desirable characteristics for a DUI processing facility include

• Adequate holding cells for arrestees;
• Separate interrogation and report writing areas that provide privacy from the general prisoner population; and
• Testing facilities that are out of main traffic patterns and allow the drug evaluation process to be performed without interruption or distraction.

6.8 Participating agencies must have access to laboratories that are capable of identifying the presence of the most commonly abused drugs when these drugs are present in sufficient concentrations to produce impairment.

Commentary: Ideally, the laboratories will also be able to identify the concentration of these drugs. In any case, the accuracy of the chemical analysis should be consistent with state-of-the-art drug testing. In other words, screening tests are not sufficient; a jurisdiction should be able to produce a confirmatory analysis. Although either blood or urine samples are acceptable, it is best if the jurisdiction has the ability to test both.

6.9 All agencies and states interested in participating in a Drug Evaluation and Classification Program must have the following endorsements:

• The state governor’s representative for highway safety;
• The chief elected official of each political subdivision to be included in the site;
• The commanding officer of each participating law enforcement agency;
• The administrative judge of each court that tries people arrested for DUI within the jurisdiction;
• The chief prosecuting attorney for each court in the jurisdiction; and
• Representatives of any other agencies that would be involved in covering the costs of developing and sustaining the DEC Program.

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