Impaired driving investigations are technically complex and can involve both drugs and/or alcohol.
The RCMP and other police agencies across Canada conduct enforcement of drug impaired driving using Drug Recognition Experts (DRE).
The Drug Evaluation and Classification Program (DEC) was founded in Los Angeles in the 1970s. At that time, peace officers were routinely arresting drivers that showed gross signs of impairment but who were not under the influence of alcohol. The LAPD used Standardized Field Sobriety tests in conjunction with accepted medical knowledge to devise a step-by-step procedure to enable them to determine drug influence. When a person is suspected of drug use, they are evaluated based on seven drug categories (central nervous system (CNS) depressants, inhalants, dissociative anaesthetics, cannabis, CNS stimulants, hallucinogens and narcotic analgesics). During the evaluation the DRE must also determine if the person may be suffering from another condition which may cause signs of impairment (illness, fatigue, mental condition, etc).
The DRE program was introduced in British Columbia in October 1995 with the first national course being delivered in January 2003. The program received legislative support in July 2008 when changes to the Criminal Code came into force making the drug evaluation compulsory by way of a demand. The legislation calls for drivers to submit to standardized field sobriety tests (psycho-physical coordination tests) which are performed on the road side. If there is evidence of impairment, the driver must accompany the officer to the police station for further evaluation of drug influence by an officer trained in the DRE program.
The DRE program is governed by the International Association of Chiefs of Police and is primarily used in Canada and the United States. There are currently more than 8000 DREs worldwide.