Drug Recognition Expert in Georgia
The Drug Whisperer – Drug Recognition Expert DUI Arrest in Georgia
Learn about police departments in Georgia now utilizing a highly questionable practice of arresting people for DUI based on only suspected use of marijuana.
What is a Drug Recognition Expert
Per the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety website, "Drug recognition is a growing field in law enforcement and has demonstrated its effectiveness as a means of identifying and prosecuting drug-impaired drivers. A properly-trained DRE can successfully identify drug impairment and accurately determine the category of drugs causing impairment."1
If a police officer completes the Drug Recognition Expert program, supposedly, they can stop a driver, perform roadside tests, and then come to an arbitrary decision as to the type of drug causing the impaired driving. While a significant number of such arrests prove to be valid, around 20% of such arrests are totally without merit. If you have been arrested by a Drug Recognition Expert, we encourage you to contact our Cherokee County DUI lawyers as soon as possible.
Based on police cam videos of actual DUI stops resulting in false arrests, a person could believe that the DRE officer has automatically assumed you to be guilty before doing any tests – the tests being just a formal show for the camera.
DRE Training is Hack Science
The DRE Program and training was initially developed by the Los Angeles Police Department. Obviously, the objective was to increase arrests of persons driving under the influence.
To become a certified Drug Recognition Expert a police officer must complete a DRE school program. In Georgia, the DRE program is managed by the Georgia Public Safety Training Center. Per the GPSTC website, the course is 240 hours, and requires an 8-hour recertification every two years. The GPSTC has published the DRE Course curriculum on its website.
Drug Recognition Expert Problems
The top problem with DRE arrests is that they are made based on an opinion, not verifiable factual information or evidence. The net effect is persons arrested by a DRE expert are guilty until proven innocent.
California DUI lawyer William Weinberg has a blog which defines three specific flaws in DRE arrests. Per attorney Weinberg’s Orange County DUI Lawyer Blog, these flaws are:
- There are far too many officers who, for whatever reason, are eager to make the arrest. That seems to be the case with this particular officer in Georgia; if the complaint is accurate, there was little reason to believe the complaining drivers were under the influence of marijuana. The power vested to a DRE officer can be abused.
- Even if after the arrest the driver is ultimately not prosecuted because the subsequent chemical test revealed no drugs in the driver’s system, the arrest stays on the driver’s record.
- This may be a violation of the search and seizure clause found in the Fourth Amendment to the Unites States Constitution. There must be a reasonable suspicion to detain the driver for any period of time longer than it takes to issue a citation for the violation that prompted the initial stop. And there must be probable cause to arrest the driver.2
Independent Testing Can Help Your Defense
If you are arrested by a DRE expert, don’t rely on the justice system to be your savior. Their forensic labs are likely to report anything and everything in your blood if it will help the prosecution. A fairly recent case in Georgia, included the lab report showing a presence of Benadryl measured at what would be a nomal dose would be 24 hours after ingestion. Yes, the prosecution will look for anything they can use.
If you’ve been arrested by a DRE officer, you should get your own lab tests done by a local, legitimate clinic or testing facility. Note that many legal CBD products may cause a positive reading for THC, which will hurt your case.
False DRE Arrests in Georgia
Georgia has had many DRE arrests thrown out by the prosecutors, but only after the accused invested many months and money for a lawyer to prove their innocence. In ffact, the number of false arrests has been enough that Atlanta news station 11 Alive had their chief investigator Brendan Keefe do an expose’ on the problems with DRE arrests.
The news story included numerous Cobb County polic videos showing the roadside arrests of innocent people. The following video is just one of the examples of false arrests made by a DRE trained officer.
The Forensic Science International Scholarly Study
The DRE process has long been questioned by legal experts. Even as far back as 2002, a scholarly study by Forensic Science International found siginificant problems with the DRE process as it relates to wrongful arrests. The 2002 study specifically staes, "If the officers determined that a suspect was under the influence of a drug, their accuracy in specifying the drug category was 81% for cannabis, 94% for narcotic analgesics, 78% for CNS stimulants, and 69% for CNS depressants. Overall accuracy in recognizing drug intoxication was 95%. These percentages indicate that although face-to-face interactions, physical evidence, and confessions/statements can be useful adjuncts to DRE decision-making, the majority of drug category decisions can be made solely on the basis of recorded suspect observations and DRE evaluation results"3
DRE Arrest and Possible Outcomes
Firstly, whether or not you are actually guilty, we strongly advise you to hire a competent DUI lawyer. A good DUI lawyer can make the outcome be far less severe than if you have no representation. Generally speaking, here are the outcomes you can expect based on your choice for legal defense:
- If you take no action, you will be found guilty and be sentenced just like every other DUI arrest in Georgia.
- You are truly guilty and hire a lawyer. Depending on circumstances, many first-time DUI’s can be negotiated down to a lesser charge. If the incident involved an accident, bodily injury, 2nd or 3rd DUI arrest, or other charges the outcome can be very rough without hiring a DUI lawyer.
- You are truly innocent and hire a lawyer. Depending on the evidence and circumstances it may very well be possible to have DUI charges dropped. If your situation involves traffic infractions, evading or resisting arrest you may have to answer for those charges.
Our law firm provides representation for all types of DUI and Less Than Safe charges including arests involving DRE officers. Contact us at 678-880-9360 to learn more.
- 1 Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, "Drug Recognition Expert Program", May 3, 2019, Available from GOVERNOR’S OFFICE OF HIGHWAY SAFETY IN GEORGIA
- 2 William Weinberg, "THE USE OF DRUG RECOGNITION EXPERTS CHALLENGED IN FEDERAL COURT", October 12, 2017, Available from Orange County DUI Lawyers Blog
- 3 John A. Smith, Charles E. Hayes, Robert L. Yolton, Dale A. Rutledge, Karl Citek, "Drug recognition expert evaluations made using limited data", September 20, 2021, Available from Forensic Science International