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History and Development
Program History
A drug recognition expert or drug recognition evaluator (DRE) is a police officer trained to recognize impairment in drivers under the influence of drugs other than, or in addition to, alcohol. The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) coordinates the International Drug Program with support from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) of the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) originated the program in the early 1970s. Back then, LAPD officers noticed that many of the individuals arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) had very low or zero alcohol concentrations. The officers reasonably suspected that the arrestees were under the influence of drugs, but lacked the knowledge and skills to support their suspicions. In response, two LAPD sergeants collaborated with various medical doctors, research psychologists, and other medical professionals to develop a simple, standardized procedure for recognizing drug influence and impairment. Their efforts culminated in the development of a multi-step protocol and the first DRE program. The LAPD formally recognized the program in 1979.

The LAPD DRE program attracted NHTSA’s attention in the early 1980s. The two agencies collaborated to develop a standardized DRE protocol. During the ensuing years, NHTSA and various other agencies and research groups examined the DRE program. Their studies demonstrated that a properly trained DRE can successfully identify drug impairment and accurately determine the category of drugs causing such impairment.

In 1987, NHTSA initiated DRE pilot programs in Arizona, Colorado, New York and Virginia. The states of Utah, California, and Indiana were added in 1988. Beginning in 1989, IACP and NHTSA expanded the DRE Program across the country. Currently, 43 states, the District of Columbia, three branches of the military, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and several countries around the world participate in the DRE Program.

The Avon Police Department acquired its first DRE on May 1, 2006 when former Chief Brian Kozak joined the Department.  On June 30, 2008 Aurion Hassinger and Yvonne Ramirez officers with the Avon Police Department have also obtained their DRE certification.