Police departments throughout the country now commonly use what are called Drug Recognition Experts, or DRE’s, when they are investigating a person for a DWI due to drugs.
Should a person be stopped an encounter a DRE, it is important to remember several points. Otherwise, it can be very easy for a Houston resident to be wowed by the DRE’s title and feel like they have no option but to accept a drug-related DWI conviction and its often harsh consequence.
Most importantly, DREs are not doctors or even medical professionals at all. They all are police officers, and they can be any law enforcement officer who has the time and energy to take a class and undergo some field training. In short, they can easily make mistakes.
DRE’s are law enforcement officers trying to secure an arrest and conviction
DRE’s are only called upon when a fellow officer already suspects a driver is impaired but has a low blood alcohol content, or BAC. In other words, when the DRE arrives on the scene, a Texas driver is already being targeted for a possible arrest.
The DRE will follow a set protocol and give his or her opinion about whether a driver is under the influence of drugs.
However, this opinion can be based on evidence like the arresting officer’s statements, the driver’s own statements, and the presence of old injection sites on a person’s body. In many other respects, a DRE’s work is very similar to a patrol officer’s performing field sobriety tests.
A DRE’s opinion should not scare a Houston motorists into a quick guilty plea. There may be many factual and legal defenses available to the person.