Drug Recognition Experts and Drugged Driving in Michigan

Drug Recognition Experts in Michigan are trained to figure out if you’re high, and what you took!


There is currently a roadside drug testing pilot underway in five counties in Michigan. The Michigan State Police are trying to determine, over the course of one year, if roadside drug testing is a cost effective way to address the rising number of drugged drivers on the road. Should they decide it is, MSP will be faced with the challenge of training more Drug Recognition Experts (DRE’s) to administer the tests. But what exactly is a DRE?


What are Drug Recognition Experts?


An MSP Drug Recognition Expert is a specially trained Michigan State Police officer whose training qualifies them to recognize the signs and symptoms of drug use in a driver. What does mean, you wonder? Well, it means that these officers have been trained to identify the very specific bodily signs, like dilated pupils, sweating, or jittery movements, that often accompany the “high” from different kinds of drugs.


How can a cop tell if you’re driving under the influence of drugs?


People who’re driving under the influence of drugs tend to display the same suspicious behaviors as drunk drivers. Things like erratic braking, weaving in and out of lanes, tailing other cars too closely and failing to dim headlights for oncoming vehicles are all considered suspicious. Any of these behaviors from a driver could get you pulled over, at which point the officer will ask you to perform a standard roadside sobriety test, and submit to a breath test.


However, once the officer has observed you and decided that you may be under the influence of something other than alcohol, you will be evaluated by a DRE. If the arresting officer  is a trained DRE, they will evaluate you themselves. If they aren’t, a DRE will be called to the scene to test you. If you live in Delta, Berrien, Kent, St. Clair, or Washtenaw County right now, you’ll also be subject to a roadside drug test, which involves a swab of saliva.


How does a Drug Recognition Expert test suspects?


Drug Recognition Experts in Michigan use a 12 step process to determine if a person is under the influence of drugs. These steps include:


  • Repeatedly taking the suspect’s blood pressure over a period of time (usually several times in an hour).
  • Checking the pupils of the suspects eyes, which will either be pinpoints, or dilated under the influence of different types of drugs. (For example, cocaine and marijuana dilate your pupils, while heroin constricts them.)
  • Ongoing checks of the suspects behavior and muscle tone.
  • Listening to the suspect’s speech patterns for slurring, lack of continuity in conversation, and confusion.


Are you required to submit to the roadside drug test?


For those of you living in the five counties currently participating in the roadside drug test pilot program, you may be wondering about whether you’re required to submit to the test. The answer is no, you’re aren’t. Just like with roadside breath tests and roadside sobriety tests (which are also called Field Sobriety Tests), you have the right to refuse. However refusing to submit to the drug test administered in the field, is a civil infraction that will earn you a fine.


If you’re arrested, you’re required to submit to the testing at the risk of having your driver’s license suspended for a full year for refusing that test. However, you’re NOT required to speak to the police or give any statement. Our best advice it to shut up, lawyer up, and call a respected drunk driving defense attorney immediately!


Do you need a drugged driving defense attorney in Michigan?


Drugged driving is a very serious offense in Michigan. Drunk and drugged drivers are treated as criminals by the court system, and are punished with severe penalties. For that reason, if you or a loved one have been accused of driving under the influence of drugs, you’re going to need to help of an experienced drugged driving defense attorney. Call The Kronzek Firm at 866 766 5245 today. We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, including weekends and holidays.


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