Here are some of the frequently asked questions and answers.

Is there a difference between the DEC Program and the DRE Program?

No. The Drug Evaluation and Classification Program (DEC Program) is the official name for the program, but it is now frequently referred to as the Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) Program.  

What does it take to become a certified DRE?

The Drug Evaluation and Classification (DEC) Program has received international acclaim for its success in identifying drug-impaired individuals. Although the focus of the DRE curricula is identifying drug-impaired drivers, DRE skills are applied to many different law enforcement activities. These activities include Health and Safety Code enforcement, particularly 11550 H&S violations (under the influence of a specific controlled substance). In addition, DREs are frequently called upon to differentiate between drug influence and medical and/or mental disorders. Certified DREs are extremely valuable tools for combating the adverse impact of drugs on the communities we serve.

DRE school is extremely demanding. To receive certification as a DRE, three phases of training must be completed. The following summarizes each phase:


Academic Training

This phase is typically conducted over two weeks (80 hours). It includes courses in physiology, vital signs, and standardized field sobriety testing (SFST), as well as extensive material on each of the seven categories of the drugs of abuse. The training includes three written examinations, an SFST proficiency examination, and five written quizzes. Students must achieve a minimum score of 80% on the three examinations, and they must also demonstrate proficiency in administering the SFST to progress to the certification phase. The academic training is conducted utilizing creative, participant-centered teaching techniques.


Certification Phase

After successfully completing the academic portion, the students return to their division of assignment. It is their responsibility to complete the certification requirements within six months following the DRE school. These requirements include: conducting a minimum of 15 drug influence evaluations while under the supervision of a DRE instructor, identifying subjects under the influence of four of the seven drug categories, and attaining a 75% toxicological confirmation rate. In addition, the student must maintain a progress log and a rolling log, as well as submit a quality resume. Finally, the student must pass a comprehensive final knowledge examination, and obtain the written endorsement of two certified DRE instructors.


Final Knowledge Phase

This phase consists of an extensive examination, testing the students' knowledge of all facets of the DEC Program. Students must answer multiple choice and fill-in-the-blank questions, complete several exemplars, and correctly classify the drug category(s). Students must also know the poly-drug effects and provide specific examples. Students must then complete several essay questions regarding poly-drug use and what behaviors an individual would most likely exhibit under the influence of different drug combinations. Some past students have said that this exam has taken them 4-5 hours to complete.

The IACP is the regulating organization for the DEC program. DRE certification is valid for two years. In order to maintain certification, DREs must conduct a minimum of four evaluations within the two-year period, submit a rolling log and current resume, and attend eight hours of re-certification training.

Who do I contact if I want to go to DRE School?

You should contact the DRE State Coordinator in your state. Prior to contacting the state coordinator, you should ensure that your agency will support your training and the DEC Program. Look up your state coordinator and contact him/her for more information.

My DRE certification has expired. How do I get recertified as a DRE?

Under the International Standards of the Drug Evaluation and Classification Program, Section 5.1, an individual can be reinstated as a DRE when the following conditions are met:

  1. The applicant must pass the 100-item exam with a score of at least 80% and witnessed by a certified DRE instructor.
  2. The applicant must complete four hands-on drug evaluations under the supervision of a DRE instructor.
  3. The applicant’s eligibility and reinstatement as a DRE is reviewed and approved by the DRE’s agency, state, and Technical Advisory Panel (TAP) regional program coordinators, where applicable.

Does the IACP certify me as a DRE?

No. The IACP is the credentialing body and does not certify DREs. The certification is done by the respective state coordinator who signs off on the DRE candidate. The candidate’s paperwork is forwarded to the IACP, which then assigns the DRE a number, enters the DRE into the IACP database, and issues the DRE certification documents to the respective state coordinator.

What does the IACP Technical Advisory Panel (TAP) do?

This group was formed to assist the IACP Highway Safety Committee on specific matters relating to the DEC Program. These matters include the revision of the approved training curriculum, review and approval of proposed alternative training programs, and other matters relating to the technical aspects of the DEC Program, including SFST, Drugs that Impair Driving, and Drug Impairment Training for Education Professionals (DITEP).

Can a non-law enforcement officer become a DRE?

Under the International Standards of the Drug Evaluation and Classification Program, Section 1.1, in order for certification as a DRE, a person shall be in the employ, including part-time and unpaid positions, and under the direct control of a public criminal justice agency involved in the enforcement of criminal or traffic safety laws as a credentialed law enforcement officer or employee, or an institution involved in providing training services to officers of law enforcement agencies. The person should also have support and endorsement from their parent agency.

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