OVI / DUI Drug Recognition Evaluations In Ohio
In situations where a law enforcement officer suspects a driver is under the influence of drugs, the officer may administer a drug recognition evaluation. Unlike the field sobriety tests, which are conducted before a driver is arrested, a drug recognition evaluation is administered after the driver’s arrest. The purpose of the evaluation is to determine whether the driver is under the influence of a drug. The evaluations cannot be conducted by just any officer. The officer must be certified as a Drug Recognition Evaluator, also called a Drug Recognition Expert (DRE).
A Brief History Of The DRE Program
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) developed the Drug Examination and Classification Program in conjunction with the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP). It was based on a program created by the Los Angeles Police Department. The purpose of the program is to train officers in a protocol for detecting drivers who are impaired by drugs.
The protocol is contained in the NHTSA manual called ‘Drug Evaluation and Classification Training Program: The Drug Recognition Expert School’. After completing the school, officers are purportedly able to determine if a person is too impaired to drive safely, whether the impairment is caused by drugs, and which class of drugs is causing the impairment. Since the 1990s, the program has been used in Ohio.
Law Enforcement Officers As Drug Recognition Evaluators/Experts
The NHTSA manual uses the acronym ‘DRE’ to stand for both ‘Drug Recognition Expert’ and ‘Drug Recognition Evaluator’. Whatever label is attached, officers must complete the training program and earn a DRE certificate before administering drug recognition evaluations. The training program, which involves 72 hours of classroom training plus on-the-street training, is divided into three phases.
In phase 1 (‘Preschool’), students demonstrate proficiency in standardized field sobriety tests and become familiar with the components of the drug recognition evaluation. In phase 2 (‘Classroom’), students learn the techniques for the evaluation, effects and categories of drugs, report writing and courtroom testimony. In phase 3 (‘Field Certification’), students shadow a certified DRE instructor, observe six evaluations, and administer six evaluations. The officers must then re-certify every two years. The percentage of Ohio officers with DRE certification is low, so arresting officers often call-in a DRE to perform a drug recognition evaluation.
The Components Of The Drug Recognition Evaluation
The drug recognition evaluation, typically administered at a police station after a driver is arrested, is a 12-step assessment. Some of the steps in the evaluation repeat tests which were likely performed before the arrest. The 12 steps are:
1. Breath Alcohol Test
2. Interview of the Arresting Officer
3. Preliminary Examination and First Pulse
4. Eye Examination: Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus, Vertical Nystagmus, and Lack Of Convergence
5. Divided Attention Psychophysical Tests: Modified Romberg, Walk And Turn, One Leg Stand, Finger-To-Nose
6. Vital Signs and Second Pulse
7. Pupil Size: reaction to light and rebound dilation
8. Muscle Tone
9. Injection Sites and Third Pulse
10. Subject's Statements and Other Observations
11. Analysis and Opinions of the Evaluator
12. Toxicological Examination: blood and/or urine sample
Problems With Drug Recognition Evaluations
The evaluations have many shortcomings. The evaluators may be subject to confirmation bias: seeking evidence to confirm their assumptions. Some components of the evaluation are not related to drug impairment. The protocol was not been subjected to critical peer review. When the protocol has been subsequently reviewed and subjected to validation studies, the reviews and studies showed the evaluations are ineffective, resulting in false-positives and false-negatives.
Ohio Attorneys For DUI / OVI Cases With Drug Recognition Evaluations
The lawyers at the Dominy Law Firm understand drug recognition evaluations and have experience litigating cases in which the evaluations were administered. Our lawyers can effectively defend you against allegations of drugged driving. If you were charged with a drug-related DUI / OVI and would like to discuss your case, you can schedule a no-cost phone consultation by completing a CONTACT FORM or by calling our office at 614-717-1177.