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Drug Recognition Expert

What is D.R.E.?

In October of 1995, ICBC sponsored the training of approximately 30 police officers (from various municipal and RCMP departments in the Lower Mainland) in the field of Drug Recognition. This included five police officers from the Vancouver Police Department. This was the first course of its kind to be held in Canada. The intent of the Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) Program was to give police officers the skills to detect and prosecute drug impaired drivers. ICBC saw a need for this program because recent British Columbia studies indicated that impairment due to drugs was involved in 15-20% of all driver fatalities.

So far the program has been extremely successful in taking drug impaired drivers off British Columbia's roads, thereby preventing the possibility of serious accidents. Hundreds of 24-hour driving prohibitions have been issued to drivers affected by drugs. Several Criminal Code charges for driving while impaired by drug have also been approved resulting in court convictions.

Since 1995, 15 of the original DREs have become DRE Instructors. In March of 1998, another DRE Course was held in British Columbia, bringing the total number of DREs to over 50. The demand for DRE Training is growing across Canada. The Ontario Provincial Police wish to fund a course in Ontario and the Calgary Police have expressed a desire to be taught the program. Currently British Columbia has the only qualified instructors in Canada to teach the course.

The ICBC Drugs and Driving Committee is working on effecting legislative changes at the provincial and federal level. A proposed Implied Consent Law would give police officers the tool to more effectively deal with the drug impaired driver.

Drugs and Driving in Canada

Can. Soc. Forens. Sci. J. Vol. 29. No 2 (1996) pp. 93-98

A drugs and driving database, maintained by the Drugs and Driving Committee of the Canadian Society of Forensic Science, includes case data collected from 11 forensic laboratories across Canada. The data presented herein are from 1158 submitted cases.

The most common drugs associated with impaired driving and fatal motor vehicle investigations in Canada, with the exception of alcohol, are benzodiazepines, cannabis, stimulants, opioids and barbiturates. Alcohol is frequently found in combination with these drugs. The involvement of drugs in driving is possibly a significant factor adversely affecting highway safety and consequently should be of major concern to all Canadians.

ICBC Drugs and Driving Committee

The following is a list of agencies who represent the committee:

  • ICBC
  • Chief Coroner
  • Superintendent of Motor Vehicles
  • Criminal Justice Branch
  • WCB
  • Provincial Health Officer
  • JIBC
  • RCMP Training Academy
  • Transport Canada
  • BCAA
  • BC Trucking Association
  • RCMP Forensic Laboratory Vancouver
  • Provincial Toxicology Centre
  • Police Services Division
  • BC Association of Chiefs of Police

The DRE Course is governed by the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

D.R.E. Logo Information

The bald eagle, a traditional symbol of law enforcement, symbolizes strength, courage and confidence. The eagle is proudly stretching its wings to display the title one receives after completing the comprehensive training program "Drug Recognition Expert."

The 12 rays that surround the eagle's head represent the 12 steps in the drug evaluation process. The first step is a breath alcohol test, and the last is the corroborative toxicological examination. The eagle's right talon is holding a grape leaf cluster, symbolizing the drug alcohol.

The left talon is holding seven arrows or spikes, signifying the seven categories of drugs. The categories, based on specific signs and symptoms, are:

  • central nervous system (CNS) depressants
  • inhalants
  • phencyclidine (PCP)
  • cannabis
  • narcotic analgesics
  • CNS stimulants
  • hallucinogens

The circular emblem over the eagle's chest has three components:

  1. The words "systematic-standardized evaluation" that surround the emblem are the watchwords for the drug evaluation procedure.
  2. In the background of the emblem's centre is the British Columbia flag. This signifies that British Columbia was the first province in Canada to implement the DRE program.
  3. The red maple leaf signifies that the program is going country-wide.