Question: Does Maryland use drug recognition experts (DREs) in drug-related DUI cases? Can you explain who they are and what their qualifications are?
Answer: Well, the Maryland State Police and county jurisdictions generally have at least, on every shift, one drug recognition expert—that’s a DRE, is the way you’ll hear it. Now, there’s a case coming out of Carroll County that isn’t fully on point, but it basically just states that the DRE is junk science. And when you actually break down the science of these drug recognition experts, really the officer is taking what you tell him you’re on. So if you admit you’re on cocaine, or if you admit you’re on marijuana or something, that’s his baseline for his tests. And the only thing that you can be certified for is the actual test itself. So they’re checking your pupils, and they’re checking your reaction to light and all this type of stuff, and they basically are making a guess based off of a couple hours of training as to whether you’re under the impairment of that certain substance. Absent a blood test, there is no way. So, every DRE case I’ve ever had, I’ve cross-examined the DRE to the point that the judge didn’t allow his report even in. So a good attorney is going to have most DREs running the other direction.
The science is very weak; it’s actually kind of unfair to even put the officers in the position of looking that silly, going on the stand saying that they have some nine-point test that tells you if you’re under the influence of something. So, the DREs, we’re seeing some counties—Carroll County has stopped even using one, and we’re really eating these cases up. Most good defense attorneys are attacking DRE reports. And that’s to say even if the DRE tech shows up in court, because they know it’s not really all that solid of a test. It takes, it adds hours onto every arrest.
So, a lot of officers, if they’re getting off shift, aren’t asking for a DRE, or they’re kind of convincing the defendant to refuse the DRE so they don’t have to sit around for three, four extra hours doing paperwork. So we’re not seeing it that prevalently anymore. But they are using them; some counties actually use them, some actually rely on them; but I imagine that we’re sort of steering away from DREs. It’s just, it’s pretty much junk science; the officer is pretty much guessing.