In Colorado, an officer may pull a driver over for a traffic infraction such as speeding and then gain probable cause to test the person for impairment. While this is true of any officer in any state, there are officers in Colorado trained specifically to be drug recognition experts. They attend an extensive and in-depth program with international standards developed by the International Association of Chiefs of Police and supported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Here are the methods a DRE may use to identify a drugged driver.
Conducting a blood alcohol concentration test on the driver
Colorado has an expressed consent law. Every driver on the road has legally provided consent to undergo a chemical test such as a breath, blood, urine or saliva test simply by being on the road. A DRE will conduct this type of test.
Interviewing the officer who arrested the driver and the driver
The DRE may become involved after an arrest, in which case he or she will gather all the facts of the arrest from the officer involved. The DRE will also talk to or further interrogate the driver.
Examining the driver’s physical condition
There are several physical signs that indicate impairment that should be obvious to someone with the DRE training. The DRE will examine the driver’s eyes, vital signs (blood pressure, pulse and body temperature), pupil size, muscle tone and nasal and oral cavities. The DRE will also check for signs of drug injection.
Testing for divided attention
Two of the standard field sobriety tests include a mental component designed to reveal impairment: the one-leg-stand and the walk-and-turn. The driver must complete a simple physical task while remembering and successfully following the instructions the officer provided.
Submitting chemical sample for analysis
If the initial BAC testing was a breath test, then the driver will also undergo a blood or urine test, possibly both. These results will be analyzed for drugs and alcohol.