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What is the 12-step process a drug recognition expert uses?

| Oct 21, 2019 | Criminal Defense |

Drug recognition experts are specially trained Georgia law enforcement officers who have undergone certification to recognize drug-impairment in suspects. They use a 12-step process, which, when properly done and completed, can enable them to correctly identify drug impairment and identify which drugs you have used.

Determining if a driver is under the influence of drugs is difficult. There is no test available like a breathalyzer that can detect drugs in a person’s system, leaving officers to make this determination on their own. By having drug recognition experts on the force, law enforcement can better assess you and make a determination as to your state. This can help cut down on mistakes and also removes impaired drivers from the streets and away from the public. It is not without its issues, though, which include some innocent and sober people landing in jail.

Alive 11 explains one of the keys to making a proper assessment is that an officer completes all 12 steps in the process. Leaving out a step or two renders the process invalid. It could lead to an incorrect determination. If an officer is a drug recognition expert and uses the assessment on your situation, always make sure he or she follows all 12 steps. They include the following:

  1. Testing for alcohol (breath alcohol)
  2. Interviewing the arresting officer on the scene
  3. Examining for other possible conditions and pulse
  4. Examining eyes
  5. Taking vital signs and pulse again
  6. Assessing pupil size
  7. Assessing muscle tone
  8. Checking for injection marks and pulse again
  9. Taking your statement and witness statements
  10. Analyzing information
  11. Conducting a toxicology exam
  12. Dark room examinations

You also should make sure the officer is actually a drug recognition expert. He or she should be able to provide proof of certification. An officer who is not trained as a DRE cannot properly administer the steps in the process and make an accurate determination.