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The Role Of Drug Recognition Experts In Florida Drugged Driving Cases


When you are pulled over by Florida police on suspicion of drunk driving, there are certain examinations they use to obtain more solid evidence of intoxication. A breathalyzer test is the most common, but officers may also request you to perform field sobriety tests. However, the issue of drugged driving is more complicated. Though it is illegal, there is no test that police can conduct at the scene to determine if you are driving under the influence of drugs (DUID). You may be surprised to find out that law enforcement can determine with reasonable accuracy that you are drugged driving, through a specialist called a Drug Recognition Expert (DRE). A DRE can have a dramatic impact in a case, so discuss your circumstances with a knowledgeable Florida DUID lawyer.

DRE Training and Certification

 A DRE is a law enforcement officer who is specially trained to evaluate and identify impairment by motorists that police suspect are drugged driving. The Florida Law Enforcement Liaison offers training under a program developed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), so that DREs can recognize the physical and other effects when a person is under the influence of a controlled substance.

Florida’s DRE program essentially fills the gap where a roadside chemical test would only reveal the presence of alcohol. It gives police another tool to apprehend people who are drugged driving and impaired. In addition, some Florida prosecutors take advantage of the training and certification program to help them better prepare for drugged driving trials. They learn the tricks of ensuring evidence is admissible in court and how to take advantage of relevant procedural rules. When they put their skills together, DREs and prosecuting attorneys make it tough to overcome drugged driving charges.

 Basics of the DRE Assessment

 DREs go through a checklist of factors to help them determine what drug or classification of drugs a motorist has consumed. The factors can pinpoint whether a driver has consumed marijuana, opiates, narcotics, and many others. Through the process the DRE may:

  • Talk to the officer who detained you;
  • Conduct a preliminary physical exam;
  • Perform an eye exam, which assesses your ability to stay focused and not be distracted by divided attention;
  • Check your vital signs;
  • Examine your muscle tone and reflexes;
  • Review your own statements;
  • Observe your responses and reactions to surrounding circumstances; and,
  • Examine your body for syringe marks or other signs of injectable drugs.

Based upon these factors, a DRE may have enough probable cause to support arresting you for driving under the influence of a controlled substance. The results of the DRE exam, plus any chemical tests police subsequently obtain, can be used against you in court.

Get Help from an Experienced Florida Criminal Defense Attorney

A DRE can have a major impact if police suspect you of drugged driving, so it is critical to retain a skilled criminal defense lawyer to represent you in court. If you were arrested for DUID under such circumstances, please contact Fort Lauderdale, FL attorney Kevin J. Kulik to set up a confidential consultation.

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