CAPITAL REGION, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Tuesday, NEWS10 told you how local law enforcement is using drug recognition experts to detect impaired drivers. Wednesday, we took you to DRE training school to show you what their training is all about.
NEWS10’s camera was allowed inside this classroom where 20 officers are being trained on impaired driving and it is all part of a long process.
“First, you’re required to successfully complete the basic course for police officers at 6 months of training and the new curriculum also includes a one-day course on recognizing the cannabis impaired motorist, then you’re required to complete a two day a ride course: advanced roadside impaired driving enforcement,” said Albany County Sheriff Commander, Adam Keral.
Once they get passed that, they are now DRE class ready.
“There’s like basically two weeks of classroom work where you’re learning about how to evaluate somebody impaired by something other than alcohol,” said DRE and Rensselaer County K9 deputy, Alida Durrant.
“Then we do the DRE certification process. We’re going to go down in Jacksonville between about 40 to 60 hours, we’re going to do a bunch of evaluations,” said Jack Guaneri, Schenectady Police officer and DRE trainee.
Part of the evaluation process is testing suspected drugged drivers.
“When there’s multiple categories of drugs that you think somebody’s impaired by, it might not even look like they’re impaired so learning how to really pay attention to everything that you do with them is really important,” said Durrant.
To show you how the testing works they tested me. First thing was to see if I was drunk.
The DRE protocol is a standardized and systematic test.
The first test is a check of my medical history, then vital signs to see if they are matching what is considered an average read.
Next is the classic finger to nose test, then there is the walk and talk tests. Straight lines and feet together no swaying. And I can tell you these tests are not so simple. Even I had issue with following directions.
Finally, is the dark room pupil test. 90 seconds in the dark then a series of lights flashed into your eyes.
These DRE’s want the public to know they can be trusted to get the job done.
“It is a very stressful and very informative process that we have to go through so to have faith in us and to allow us to our job and you know support us,” said Guaneri.
Commander Keral says the need for DRE’s has increased and that New York is well on its way to exceeding 500 drug recognition experts by the end of 2023.
“From 2021 to 2022 it was one of the first ever increases in traffic fatalities and DWI arrests in New York state so there’s definitely an uptick and any DRE’s, the more the merrier,” said Keral.