Thirteen law enforcement officers from across the state of North Dakota graduated today from the Drug Evaluation and Classification (DEC) program to become Drug Recognition Experts (DREs). The DEC program is part of a three-phase training process which includes over 130 hours of training to provide skills in the detection and identification of persons impaired by alcohol and/or drugs.
“This program is critical for recognizing and removing impaired drivers from the road. Drug impaired driving can look completely different than alcohol impairment and this rigorous training allows our certified officers to differentiate between the two,” said State DRE Coordinator Trooper Tarek Chase. “With 42% of fatalities in 2019 related to alcohol impairment, the removal of all impaired drivers is vital to achieving Vision Zero’s goal of zero fatalities and serious injuries on North Dakota roads.”
The graduates are now required to complete a minimum of 12 drug evaluations under the supervision of a trained DRE instructor. As part of this final phase, the graduate must also pass a knowledge examination and be approved by two instructors before being certified as a DRE.
There are 52 DREs throughout North Dakota and this graduating class will bring the total to 65 certified DRE officers and/or public safety officials.
The DEC program is coordinated by the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) and is supported by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), U.S. Department of Justice, the American Bar Association and the National commission Against Drunk Driving, to name a few. Funding for the North Dakota DEC program is through the North Dakota Department of Transportation in collaboration with the North Dakota Highway Patrol.