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The Role of Drug Recognition Experts (DREs) in your Florida DUI Case

December 2020

You hear the acronym “DUI” and you immediately think of getting behind the wheel after having too much alcohol at a party or a night of bar hopping. While that’s the case for many Floridians who are arrested for driving under the influence, that crime could also cover those who are driving under the influence of drugs, instead of (or in addition to) alcohol. If a police officer pulls you over on suspicion of DUI and he or she suspects you are actually driving under the influence of drugs, you will likely have to interact with a Drug Recognition Expert (DRE).

What is a DRE?

Just as officers are certified in recognizing drivers who are driving under the influence, a smaller subset is certified in recognizing when drivers are operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs in particular. While officers can simply request someone they’ve pulled over to submit to a breathalyzer test in order to determine blood-alcohol-concentration, there is no roadside test to create reasonable suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs.

Instead, there is a series of tests DREs administer to create reasonable assurances that the subject is on drugs and was witnessed operating a motor vehicle. There are 12 tests that DREs use to make an arrest. A handful of those tests (like field sobriety tests) overlap with tests if intoxication is suspected, but most are unique to DREs, including:

  • Administering eye exams (measuring pupil sizes and gauging the pupils’ reaction to a flashlight)
  • Taking blood pressure and monitoring other vital signs
  • Sizing up muscle tone
  • Looking for injection sites
  • Observing nasal cavities

The DRE tests are quite process-oriented, meaning that any deviations from protocol could result in the evidence collected by the DRE at the roadside could be inadmissible in court. There are many other ways that an experienced and knowledgeable criminal defense attorney could poke holes in the state’s DUI case.

For instance, there could be a medical explanation for why you displayed symptoms of drug impairment (a diabetic episode). More broadly, an attorney could show that for all a DRE’s training, he or she is still not a medical expert and could not have come to the conclusion that you were impaired by drugs while driving. Other times, the officer could have violated your constitutional rights by not advising you of your Miranda rights immediately after your arrest.

Petkovich Law Firm, more than many other firms in the Coral Gables area, understands the many nuances of a DUI arrest involving a DRE. Our legal team can easily recognize the vulnerabilities in a DUI case and get to work on providing you with an aggressive and thorough defense. Please call us today at 305-358-8003 to get started.


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