Expert in recognizing drugsAs a Montgomery County DUI lawyer, I have always been baffled but the concept of what the Pennsylvania State Police call the “drug recognition expert” or “DRE”.  This is the cop that is “specially trained” to detect and ferret out those drivers that are driving the roads drunk or under the influence of drugs.   These hale fellows are troopers who have gone to classes to learn what a person who is “high” looks like.  They do the classes, they get certified, and then boom! they are DREs.  Really?

This is how it works in real life:

A driver is pulled over on I-76, in King of Prussia perhaps, and the officer suspects that he might be under the influence.  A call goes out to the DRE and he scrambles to the scene to perform tests like:  listening to driver’s speech, observing the driver’s gait, and looking in the driver’s eyes with a penlite.  Eyes are droopy = the driver must be on downers; pupils are enlarged = the driver must be on coke; driver can’t follow the a pen with his eyeballs = he’s just probably drunk.  This is what the DRE does.  He does this so the arresting officer can report after arrest that there was an “articulable suspicion” to believe that the driver was impaired.

Now don’t get me wrong, these guys are conscientious enough, but as a Pa. Drivers License Lawyer and DUI lawyer, it just galls me when I have to examine these guys on the stand.  Lets face it, if you need a DRE to determine whether someone was messed up or not, well, to me, they couldn’t have been that messed up.  But is sure is fun tying them up in knots on the stand.

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