The Minnesota Office of Traffic Safety used grant funding from GHSA and the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility (Responsibility.org) to host a Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) School October 2018 through January 2019. Law enforcement agencies were notified of the training opportunity through multiple postings and distribution through the DRE network, Minnesota Police Chief Association, Minnesota Sheriff Association, Law Enforcement Liaison networks and the Minnesota County Attorney Association.
The classroom training consisted of a 72-hour course utilizing lecture, practical and hands-on activities. Student officers were required to perform 12 instructor-witnessed evaluations and receive lab confirmation of three drug categories. Finally, a comprehensive Certification Knowledge Exam that encompasses all facets of both classroom and certification training was given at the end of the certification phase.
With the completion of this DRE School training, Minnesota's statewide total rose to 257 DREs from 112 agencies.
DREs improve safety for motorists by providing additional expertise in identifying drug-impaired drivers and taking them off the road. Alcohol isn't the only substance that can impair a person, and the presence of those other substances may not be as obvious, especially to the untrained eye.
While impairment by illicit drugs is always a concern, impairment by prescription medications in a growing problem in Minnesota.
Once certified, DREs can determine whether a driver is under the influence of drugs alone, alcohol and drugs combined or even an injury or illness whose symptoms look like alcohol or drug impairment.
In 1990, Minnesota had five convictions for drug-impaired driving. That number has risen to over 2,000. That increase is thanks in large part to the DRE program and the dedicated officers who complete this rigorous training.