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DUI: What is a drug recognition expert?

Question: I caught a DUI in Cherokee County the other night. I wasn't that drunk but I had been doing some drugs. I spent a few hours smoking pot, eating mushrooms (shrooms) and I took a few pain killers. I only drove home when I thought I'd be alright to drive but I was stopped for speeding and failure to maintain lane.

The cop said he could smell marijuana and I think he could because we had smoked in the car and it was pretty noticeable. And he said I looked like I was on drugs. I can usually hide being on drugs so I think he was bluffing but maybe he could tell.

The cop who stopped me waited for a while and another officer came to check me out. The other police officer said he was a drug recognition expert and I did all his tests. I refused the breath test and the blood test.

What does a drug recognition expert actually mean?

E.S. in Cherokee County, Georgia

Answer: A DRE, or drug recognition expert, should be qualified and certified. To get certified a police officer needs to take and pass certain classes and examinations. A DRE should be able to notice and evaluate the signs and symptoms of various drug categories, such as central nervous system depressants, central nervous system stimulants, hallucinogens, narcotic analgesics, inhalants and cannabis.

Some police departments use DREs to build a stronger case against a defendant. A DRE is considered better able to testify against a person who is accused of using drugs than an officer without specialized training. Prosecutors believe a DRE is more persuasive to a jury and judge than an officer without specialized training.

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