Alcohol is no longer the key contributing factor while driving under the influence (DUI). With the dramatic rise in the abuse of prescription medications, bath salts and spice marijuana, alcohol is now only a contributing factor for most DUI’s, according to Marietta Police Public Information Officer David Baldwin.
According to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, 75 percent of persons who abuse alcohol also abuse illicit drugs. The metro Atlanta area has seen a dramatic increase of poly drug driving, which is the combination of alcohol and illicit drugs, Baldwin said in a press release.
While most departments have a slew of officers who are certified in Standardized Field Sobriety, this certification concentrates mostly on the detection of alcohol while driving, Baldwin said.
The Marietta Police Department has stepped up its attack on this growing epidemic by certifying officers as Drug Recognition Experts (DRE). DRE’s are trained to differentiate what drugs a person may be under the influence of even if it is masked by the profound effects of alcohol.
The Marietta Police Department currently has three DRE’s and one DRE Instructor on its Selective Traffic Enforcement Program Unit. This number of certified DRE’s for the department is incredibly high when compared to other agencies, Baldwin said.
Each DRE certification takes on average six months to obtain and has an attrition rate of at least one third of all students. This international certification also qualifies each DRE to be classified as an expert witness in court, Baldwin said.