Interviewer: In terms of the traffic stop under suspicion of DUI, does Arizona have DREs, Drug Recognition Experts?
Brian: Arizona does have Drug Recognition Experts. Anytime the officer suspects that drugs or medications may be involved, usually because they’ve ruled out alcohol but they do see some form of impairment, they can call out an officer that has some training in drug recognition.
The Officers are Utilized When Alcohol Impairment Has Been Ruled Out
The officer will either come to the scene or the suspect will be brought to where this drug recognition expert is. The drug recognition expert will do these tests testing the eyes, testing pupil size, testing reaction to light, and will go through a series of questions.
DREs Will Most Typically Ask You About Your Drug Use
Usually the most common one that the drug recognition expert asks is, “Have you taken any drugs?” Usually a suspect will say, “Yes, I took cocaine three hours ago.” That tends to be what the drug recognition expert puts down as, “I believe this person has been impaired by cocaine.”
During a situation that was handled by another attorney, a person was arrested and was before a drug recognition expert and the question came up, “Have you taken any drugs lately?” The person said, “Yes, I’ve taken cocaine.”
The drug recognition expert wrote that down and said, “I believe this person is under the influence of cocaine. That is my scientific evaluation.” Later, when they tested the blood, there was absolutely no cocaine present but the person did have marijuana present.
The question became why did you say that you had cocaine if you did not have cocaine? The answer was, “I was just fooling with the officer.”
These drug recognition experts really wait until the person admits to doing it and then they say in their medical opinion, or their expert opinion, that the person is under the influence of the drug that the person admits to taking.
If You Are Arrested, You May Not Know You Are Being Questioned By a DRE
Interviewer: Will people know when they are encountering a DRE, for example, do they dress differently? Do they let people know they are a DRE?
Brian: I’m not sure if they actually introduce it. Usually, as part of the drug recognition exam, the police will take a suspect into a darkened room. The typical scenario is to have one or two officers in a dark room with the suspect.
One of these officers is usually a drug recognition expert, and they’re all three sitting there or standing there in a dark room. Then the drug recognition expert turns on a flashlight to see how the suspect’s pupils react to light.