Drug Recognition Experts for DUI in New Jersey

sobriety test walking

If you have been charged with DUI in New Jersey after undergoing tests administered by a drug recognition expert (DRE), you may be wondering what a drug recognition expert is and how you can fight these serious charges. Our DUI defense lawyers are highly experienced in handling these cases and challenging the findings of DREs. With offices in Edison, we combat DUI charges on behalf of clients in Woodbridge, New Brunswick, East Brunswick, Piscataway, and throughout Middlesex County, NJ. Contact us online or call (732) 659-9600 for a free consultation with an experienced DUI attorney. And please continue reading for additional information about drug recognition experts in New Jersey DUI cases.

What is a Drug Recognition Expert (DRE)?

A drug recognition expert (DRE) is a professionally trained officer, who is skilled at noticing the signs and indications of intoxication or being under the influence of drugs. The DRE administers tests beyond a breathalyzer, which in New Jersey is the Alcotest 7110 device. The DRE’s tests are designed to recognize many subtle and specific indications of drug or alcohol use.

What do DREs do?

DREs follow a 12-step protocol for evaluating a suspect to determine if they are impaired, if the impairment is due to the influence of drugs, and what type of drug they are likely using. Drug recognition experts are trained to identify 7 different categories of drugs: central nervous system depressants, central nervous system stimulants, hallucinogens, dissociative anesthetics, narcotic analgesics, inhalants, and marijuana.

The 12 steps used by DREs were developed by the International Association of Chiefs of Police and include:

  1. Reviewing a breath alcohol test;
  2. Interviewing the arresting officer about the suspect’s appearance, behavior, and driving;
  3. Conducting a preliminary examination and taking the suspect’s pulse for the first of three times;
  4. Performing an eye examination;
  5. Administering four psychological tests;
  6. Taking the suspect’s vital signs and pulse for the second time;
  7. Examining the suspect’s pupil size under three different lighting conditions;
  8. Examining the suspect’s skeletal muscle tone;
  9. Checking the suspect for injection marks and taking their pulse for the third time;
  10. Asking the suspect a series of questions after administering their Miranda warnings;
  11. Forming an opinion based on the totality of the evaluation; and
  12. Requesting a toxicology lab analysis.

Do You Have to Agree to a DRE Evaluation?

You have the right to refuse to participate in a DRE evaluation. You do not have to agree to any of the tests they administer. Doing so is not going to help your case. It is much more likely that submitting to the tests and evaluation will only provide evidence in support of the prosecution’s case against you.

How Do You Fight a Drug Recognition Expert’s Report?

At trial, an experienced DUI defense lawyer can challenge the accuracy of the DRE’s tests, the procedures they followed or failed to follow, the DRE’s qualifications as an expert or insufficient training, to name a few. Your DWI lawyer can also present any contradicting evidence or an alternative explanation for the drug recognition expert’s findings. The defense of DRE evaluations can be very technical and complicated, which is why it is so important to have a DUI defense attorney who knows how to defend against DUI charges involving a drug recognition expert (DRE) evaluation.

I was charged with a DUI. What Should I do?

In New Jersey, prosecutors cannot downgrade a DUI charge or extend a plea offer in a DUI case. The law takes DUI charges very seriously and a DUI conviction can carry significant penalties including fines, license suspension, and imprisonment.

If you have been charged with a DUI in Middlesex County, New Jersey, it is crucial to hire an experienced DUI defense lawyer. This is particularly true if the prosecution has a DRE evaluation that is not in your favor. At William Proetta Criminal Law, our DUI attorneys are committed to using all of our knowledge and skill to undermine to contention that you were driving under the influence. To find out how we can help you, contact our Edison office at (732) 659-9600. A member of our legal team is available immediately to assist you.

With more than a decade of experience defending clients against criminal charges, founding partner William A. Proetta has successfully handled and tried thousands of cases, from DWI to murder. As a New Jersey native, he has focused his career on helping people in the area where he grew up, serving Middlesex, Ocean, Hudson, and Union counties.