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The Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) Program and procedures were initially developed in the 1970s by traffic enforcement officers of the Los Angeles Police Department. This procedure trains selected officers to utilize a standardized twelve step evaluation procedure, that enables the officer to determine whether an individual is under the influence of drugs, and then to determine the type of drug causing the observable impairment. Importantly, the DRE procedure enables the DRE to rule in (or out) many medical conditions, such as illness or injury, that may be contributing to the impairment. Although the primary focus of the DRE procedure is driving under the influence (DUI) enforcement, the procedures have been applied to Health and Safety Code violations, probation, parole, drug usage in the workplace, and other areas where accurately identifying the drug-impaired individual is relevant.
Los Angeles DREs have also been responsible for training prosecuting attorneys throughout the country to effectively prosecute the drugged driver. Los Angeles DREs regularly provide expert advice to prosecutors, administrators, toxicologists, and traffic safety professionals on issues related to drug abuse.
Not only does the Los Angeles Police Department's DRE Unit conduct and coordinate DRE training for the 350 LAPD DREs, it oversees DRE activities for over 60 California law enforcement agencies. In 1995, the LAPD DRE Unit hosted seven local DRE courses, involving approximately 200 law enforcement officers. In addition, LAPD DREs conducted the first DRE training courses in Wisconsin and in British Columbia, Canada.
The Los Angeles Police Department has time and time again demonstrated its unwavering commitment to preventing the deaths and injuries caused by those who choose to endanger our citizens by driving under the influence of drugs. With the continued support of NHTSA, the IACP, and the California Office of Traffic Safety, DREs are making a difference.