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69 UMKC L. Rev. 557 (2000-2001)
The D.R.E.: Drug Recognition Expert or Experiment

handle is hein.journals/umkc69 and id is 567 raw text is: THE D.R.E.: DRUG RECOGNITION EXPERT OR
EXPERIMENT?
Scott Brown'
The scenario is quite common in law enforcement. A police officer spots a
car being driven erratically. Suspecting that the driver has been drinking, the
officer stops the vehicle. The officer approaches the driver-side door expecting
to find the telltale signs of drunk driving. However, she finds none. There is no
odor of alcohol emanating from the driver, no open containers or any containers
at all for that matter. Still certain that the driver is intoxicated, the officer con-
vinces the driver to submit to a preliminary breath test. The test is negative, indi-
cating to the frustrated police officer that the driver has not had a drop to drink.
For years, police officers in such situations had no alternative but to let the
suspect go. But recently, police across the nation have had a new weapon. That
weapon is the Drug Recognition Expert (D.R.E.).
This Comment will introduce the reader to the D.R.E. evaluation and ex-
plore the few cases that have dealt with the Drug Recognition Expert. Finally,
after a critical examination of the D.R.E. evaluation under the Frye and Daubert-
Kumho tests for the admissibility of scientific evidence, it should be clear that
D.R.E. testimony should not be admitted in court as evidence, either expert sci-
entific or otherwise, that a driver is impaired by drugs.
I. THE DRUG RECOGNITION EXPERT PROGRAM
In the late 1970s, the Los Angeles Police Department began devising a
method to determine whether drivers were operating their vehicles while under
the influence of drugs.' During the 1980s, the National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration (NHTSA) conducted several studies relating to the validation of
the D.R.E. program.2 Based on the favorable results of these studies, the
NHTSA became an advocate of the program and a partner of the L.A.P.D. in
developing a standard curriculum for the training of Drug Recognition Experts.
Although today the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) is the
national certifying agency for D.R.E.s and instructors, the L.A.P.D. is still the
dominant force behind the program.4 In all but one of the jurisdictions that use
the program, the IACP is responsible for the training and certification of D.R.E.
officers.5
* J.D. Candidate, 2001, University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law. B.A. University of
Colorado-Boulder, 1996. The author wishes to thank Professor Andre Moenssens for his guidance
and expertise. Thanks also to Officer Danielle Sesley of the Lenexa, Kansas, Police Department.
Finally, special thanks to Polly Bartle for her ideas, support and patience.
'The State of Colorado, The State of Colorado's Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) Program (visited
July 7, 2000) <http://www.dot.state.co.us/programs/safety/alcohol/whatisit.htm>.
2Id.
See id.
'See id
' See Citizens Against Drug Impaired Drivers (CANDID), The Drug Recognition Expert Program
(visited July 7, 2000) <http://www.candid.org/DRE/drea.htm>.
557

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