Statewide Program Prevents Drugged Driving on New York’s Roadways.
Albany, NY - September 13, 2017 - The Governor's Traffic Safety Committee (GTSC) and the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) congratulated and recognized 22 law enforcement officers from across New York State who recently completed extensive training and are now nationally certified as Drug Recognition Experts (DREs). A graduation ceremony honoring all 22 graduates took place on September 13 in Oneida County. With this graduating class, New York now has 262 certified DREs across the state.
“The threat of drugged driving continues to present a traffic safety issue for our communities,” said Acting GTSC Chair and DMV Executive Deputy Commissioner Terri Egan. "Drug Recognition Expert training ensures that law enforcement officers can detect and identify drivers under the influence of drugs. DREs are essential to protecting our highways for all New Yorkers and their families. I would like to congratulate this graduating class and wish them continued success in keeping New York’s roadways safe.”
DREs are utilized by law enforcement officials when a driver appears to be impaired, but police have ruled out alcohol as the cause of impairment. DREs receive extensive training, sponsored by the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee, which allows them to observe and document signs and indicators of impairment with each of the seven drug categories including illicit and prescription drugs. This training allows DREs to remove impaired drivers from New York State roadways regardless of the drug or drug combinations that are causing impairment.
According to data compiled by the Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research (ITSMR), the number of fatal crashes involving a drug-involved driver increased by 22% between 2013 and 2016. The number of personal injury crashes involving a drug-involved driver also rose, increasing by 30% between 2013 and 2016. These increases highlight the need to have police officers certified as DREs to better detect, identify and remove drug-involved drivers from New York State roadways.
New York State Police Superintendent George P. Beach II said, “The Drug Recognition Expert program is critical to law enforcement’s continuing effort to keep impaired drivers off our roadways. I want to congratulate the graduates for expanding their skills and training, as well as our partners at the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee and the Department of Motor Vehicles for sharing in our commitment to keep New York’s highways among the safest in the nation.”
As part of their intensive training, DRE graduates must successfully complete a three-part phased program prior to being certified. The first phase consists of a two-day curriculum followed by a certification test to advance to the next phase of the program. The second phase, which encompasses 72 classroom hours, results in a final knowledge exam. The third phase, a comprehensive certification training program, requires participants to observe and identify three out of the seven drug categories and take a four to five hour final knowledge exam to successfully comply with DRE regulations.
In 2016, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced a public service campaign to raise awareness about the dangers of drugged driving in New York State. The public service announcement, titled “Drugged Driving is Impaired Driving,” was developed by the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee and can be viewed here.
Officers selected to attend the DRE program must have a history of being proactive within their community and be well-versed in DWI detection. Only a handful of the large number of DRE applicants are selected to attend the extensive training which is paid for by the GTSC.