The purpose of this project was to identify areas where potential modifications could be implemented to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the Drug Evaluation and Classification Program.
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The Drug Evaluation and Classification Program (DECP) was developed to assess drivers for impairment due to drugs other than alcohol. The assessment protocol performed by Drug Recognition Experts (DREs) is a systematic and standardized procedure that involves a series of interviews and observations, psychomotor tests, measurements of vital signs and clinical indicators, and a toxicological evaluation. The purposes of the procedure are: (1) to provide the officer with the necessary evidence to determine whether or not the suspect is impaired, (2) to determine whether the observed impairment is due to drugs rather than a medical condition and, (3) to determine which category (or categories) of drugs might be responsible for the observed impairment.
Since its inception in the late 1970s, the DECP has been adopted by all 50 states; Washington, D.C. and Canada. It also has served as the basis for similar programs in other countries. Despite widespread use and strong support among highway safety advocates, the program is not without its challenges. For example, proficiency in the techniques of the DECP requires rigorous training that only a select group of officers have the opportunity and desire to obtain. Further, the results of the assessment are subject to challenges in court. Nevertheless, the DECP continues to grow and has become a central component of the U.S. criminal justice system response to drug-impaired driving.
The purpose of this project was to identify areas where potential modifications could be implemented to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the DECP.
The project utilized five methods:
Areas of potential improvement were identified through a literature review, analysis of data from DRE evaluations, review of international programs, investigation of new technologies, and key informant interviews. Explanations of the suggestions below, along with a relative timeline, are provided in the full report. It should be noted that a suggestion to alter an aspect of the DECP does not necessarily imply that a problem exists. Rather, the following suggestions are made primarily for the purposes of enhancing the DECP as leveraged in practice. Ideally, this list will guide discussion by the DECP Technical Advisory Panel and other stakeholders.