A Look at Drug Evaluation & Classification and DWI Laws

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    Taking a look at DEC Program and DWI laws

    Heber Springs, Ark. -
    This week’s article, and several more, pertains to Drug Evaluation and Classification Program and Arkansas DWI laws. The Drug Evaluation and Classification (DEC) Program is a transportation safety program focusing on the detection and apprehension of drug-impaired drivers. The program is managed and coordinated by the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) with support from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) of the U.S. Department of Transportation. The DEC Program (also referred to as the Drug Recognition Expert Program) was developed in the early 1970s in Los Angeles, California, by the Los Angeles Police Department. Due to the program’s success in identifying drug-impaired drivers, it soon became an international program expanding to other states and eventually into Canada and other countries. The DEC Program trains police officers and other public safety officials as drug recognition experts or drug recognition evaluators (DREs) through a three-phase training curriculum.
    The training relies heavily upon the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFST’s). Once trained and certified, DREs become highly effective officers skilled in the detection and identification of persons impaired or affected by alcohol and/or drugs.
    DREs conduct a detailed, diagnostic examination of persons arrested or suspected of drug-impaired driving or similar offenses. Based on the results of the DRE drug evaluation they form an expert opinion as to whether or not the person is:
    1. Impaired, and if so, is the person able to operate a vehicle safely? If the DRE concludes that the person is impaired…
    2. Is the impairment due to an injury, illness or other medical complication, or is it drug-related? If the DRE concludes that the impairment is due to drugs…
    3. He or she determines which category or combination of categories of drugs is the most likely source of the impairment.
    DREs conduct their evaluations in a controlled environment. The drug evaluation is not normally done at roadside and is typically a post -arrest procedure. In some cases, the person evaluated will be a driver the DRE personally arrested. However, in many cases, the DRE will be called upon to conduct the evaluation after the driver is arrested by another officer. The DRE is requested to assist in the investigation because of their special expertise and skills in identifying drug impairment.
    The DRE drug evaluation takes approximately one hour to complete. The DRE evaluates and assesses the person’s appearance and behavior.
    He also carefully measures and records vital signs and makes precise observations of the person’s automatic responses and reactions. The DRE also administers carefully designed psychophysical tests to evaluate the person’s judgment, information processing ability, coordination and various other characteristics. The DRE will systematically consider everything about the person that could indicate the influence of drugs.
    The DRE drug evaluation includes twelve major components or steps, which includes:
    1. The Breath Alcohol Test
    2. The Interview of the Arresting Officer
    3. The Preliminary Examination
    4. Examinations of the Eyes
    5. Divided Attention Psychophysical Tests
    6. Examination of Vital Signs
    7. Dark Room Examinations
    8. Examination for Muscle Tone
    9. Examination for Injection Sites
    10. Suspect’s Statements and Other Observations
    11. Opinions of the Evaluator
    12. The Toxicological Examination
    DREs are trained to identify signs and symptoms of impairment in the following seven drug categories.
    (1) Central Nervous System (CNS) Depressants
    CNS Depressants slow down the operations of the brain and the body. Examples of CNS
    Depressants include alcohol, barbiturates, anti-anxiety tranquilizers (e.g., Valium, Librium, Xanax, Prozac, and Thorazine), GHB (Gamma Hydroxybutyrate), Rohypnol and many other antidepressants (e.g., as Zoloft, Paxil).
    (2) Central Nervous System Stimulants
    CNS Stimulants accelerate the heart rate and elevate the blood pressure and “speed-up” or over stimulate the body. Examples of CNS Stimulants include Cocaine, “Crack”, Amphetamines and Methamphetamine (“Crank”).
    (3) Hallucinogens
    Hallucinogens cause the user to perceive things differently than they actually are. Examples include LSD, Peyote, Psilocybin and MDMA (Ecstasy).
    (4) Dissociative Anesthetics
    This category consists of the drug PCP and its various analogs (or “chemical cousins”) and Dextromethorphan (DXM). Originally developed for use as an anesthetic, PCP is a powerful drug that in some ways acts like a depressant, in other ways like a stimulant, and in still other ways like a hallucinogen. Ketamine is an analog of PCP. (5) Narcotic Analgesics
    A narcotic analgesic relieves pain, induces euphoria and creates mood changes in the user. Examples of narcotic analgesics include Opium, Codeine, Heroin, Demerol, Darvon, Morphine, Methadone, Vicodin and OxyContin.
    (6) Inhalants
    Inhalants include a wide variety of breathable substances that produce mind-altering results and effects.
    Examples of inhalants include Toluene, plastic cement, paint, gasoline, paint thinners, hair sprays and various anesthetic gases.
    (7) Cannabis
    Cannabis (substances containing Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol) interferes with a person’s ability or willingness to divide their attention, which is necessary to operate a vehicle safely. Examples include marijuana, hashish and Marinol (Synthetic THC).
    This information just scratches the surface of this program. I will talk more in depth of signs and symptoms of each of the seven drug categories in the future articles.

    By Officer Mike "Tiny" Bearden/ Be Informed
    The Sun-Times
    Wed Sep 09, 2009, 11:00 AM CDT

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