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Drug Recognition Experts (DREs) are far from "experts"...

Posted by Nathan Webb | Jan 07, 2013 | 0 Comments

The WSP knows which drugs you're on TV shows and movies have taught us how drunk drivers behave when an officer pulls them over. They stumble while trying to walk a straight line and struggle to touch their nose with their finger. What does a drugged driver - someone impaired by something other than alcohol - act like? There are about 200 officers in Washington, who are trained to know which drug a person is using, just by observing them. Washington State Patrol Sergeant Mark Crandall is Drug Recognition Expert and a DRE trainer. In his 20 years as a trooper he's seen thousands of people who use prescription or illegal drugs, then drive. Some of them are high on a combination of things. "I arrested a painter who was inside a closed container. After work he had a couple of beers and was driving home about 4 a.m. The beers mixed with the fumes, he was high as a kite. By the time I got him out of the car, I saw him starting to inhale fresh air and watched him become sober," Crandall says. Marijuana, Methamphetamine and Oxycodone are the top three drugs used by those who've been pulled over so far in 2012. "We find people who are using stuff off the shelf, the huffers, the recreational drug users who take something or a feeling, illegal drugs, the underground drugs, the heroin and meth," says Crandall. "When you ask what we're encountering, I always say what can you imagine? It can be anything." The blood alcohol limit for drunk driving is .08 percent in Washington. Officers can measure the BAC in a portable breath test that can be used at the roadside. But there isn't an equivalent relationship between drugs and impairment levels. Troopers don't have an on-the-spot test for suspected drugged drivers. A blood draw is needed, with results coming later from a lab. For the officer's safety and others, it's important to figure out pretty quickly what kind of drugged-up person they're dealing with. If a trooper suspects someone they've pulled over is on drugs, they can call for a DRE to analyze the driver. The expert runs through a 12 step process, observing things like muscle tone. "They can be really amped up and their muscles will be rigid and solid, or they'll be on heroin and they'll be loose and flaccid like Jello. We feel their arms, we have them make fists, and we feel their forearms, do they know the difference between flexing or not and can we see that," he says. Behavior is a give away. Someone on meth will be "agitated, fidgety and hyped up" because it's a stimulant. Someone taking PCB might act like they have human strength or become paranoid. Pupil dilation also tells them a lot. Ecstasy, cocaine, crack, meth, all dilate the eyes, which look totally black, barely any color shows. Heroin makes the pupils look like pin dots. DREs try to stay ahead of drug users by going online to figure out what people are using to get high and how the substance impacts their behavior. "As we're trying to prohibit people from driving impaired on the highway, they're actually writing about how to get their best high," says Crandall. "I visit those websites too, I look at it, I find it amazing what people will do to feel an effect or get high, to get an euphoric feeling or to make them sleep, or anything that effects their body." The average state patrol officer pulls over between 1,500 and 1,700 drivers a year. The DREs have a high batting average for knowing what drug someone is on, confirmed by blood tests. Seattle DUI Lawyer, Nate Webb's, response to this article: The "training" they go through teaches them that everyone who smokes pot has a "green" tongue and that aspirin is a drug! Take this article with a grain of salt. Interesting how the DRE in this article said the painter was "high as a kite" and sobered up in front of him, hilarious! Maybe he just thought he had something more than he did but since the driver really only had two beers (probably verified by a breath test well below the limit at the station), the DRE had to stretch and point to some "reasoning" to arrest. To sum up, DRE training is a joke, then these self-proclaimed "experts" testify that after 7 days of training, yes 7 days, their conclusions are the equivalent of an MD! If all it takes is 7 days to become an "expert," then I'm an expert in: pediatrics, psychology, oncology, advertising, dentistry, construction, tiger woods PGA tour '11, '12, get the picture.

About the Author

Nathan Webb

Nathan "Nate" Webb has been repeatedly recognized by Washington Law and Politics Magazine as a Super Lawyer Rising Star, named one of Seattle's Top Attorneys by Seattle Met Magazine and is rated Superb (perfect 10 out of 10) by


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