Interviewer: So, what is a DRE, and how are they used in a DUI arrest?
Munoz: A DRE is a drug recognition examination. It’s done by a police officer who’s had special DRE training. I believe it’s a 6 to 12 week course where they get trained on the effects of drugs on the human body as it relates to DUIs. It’s a very rigorous course and these officers, what they do is, if they think you’re impaired by any drugs at all, they will ask you to do a DRE exam. A DRE exam can be everything from looking at your pupil size to your blood pressure to your muscle tone. They will look at your eyes.
It is a comprehensive examination, and prosecutors use this exam to try to get more evidence that you were impaired while driving a motor vehicle. All people should know they have the right to deny a DRE examination. You can refuse to do the DRE exam at no penalty to you in Arizona.
Interviewer: Where are DRE exams usually asked to be conducted? Are they roadside or are they at the police station?
Munoz: Usually, DRE exams are considered, are done at a DUI mobile van or a police station. One of the things they do in a DRE test is they’ll put you in a dark room, and they’ll have you look at lights to see whether or not your pupils change in size. Some of the precursor field sobriety tests are done at the scene upon arrest, and those may be refused as well.
Interviewer: If you refuse a DRE test, is there a typical reaction from police? Will they then ask you to do a blood test? Besides no consequences, what will happen literally when you politely refuse one?
Munoz: In most cases, if an officer is trying to get you to take a DRE examination, he likely has already decided to make the arrest, to arrest you. It is a person’s right to refuse a DRE exam and field sobriety test. And a person should know if they agree to do these tests, they’re only giving more information and more evidence to the police to later try to convict you of DUI. Everyone who’s asked to do a field sobriety test or a DRE should always refuse. Yes, officers will sometimes be upset that you are unwilling to take their test, but that’s because their job is to try to arrest you and convict you of DUI. It is your job to protect yourself.