Press Release - 04-04-2017

DMV News


Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Joe Morrissey             [email protected]       
Rich Meddaugh          [email protected]


Statewide Program Prevents Drugged Driving on New York’s Roadways


The Governor's Traffic Safety Committee (GTSC) and the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) today congratulated and recognized 18 law enforcement officers from across New York State who recently completed extensive training and are now nationally certified as Drug Recognition Experts (DREs). A graduation ceremony honoring all 18 graduates took place on Friday, March 31 in Ontario County. With this graduating class of 18, New York now has 239 certified DREs across the state.


“Drugged driving is a threat to public safety in New York State and a challenge to law enforcement officers patrolling our roadways,” said Acting GTSC Chair and DMV Executive Deputy Commissioner Terri Egan. "As incidents of drugged driving continue to rise, the DRE program has become an increasingly important aspect of law enforcement’s traffic safety efforts here in New York, holding those who break the law accountable.”


DREs are utilized by law enforcement officials when a driver appears to be impaired, but police have ruled out alcohol as the cause of impairment. A DRE receives extensive training, sponsored by the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee, that allows him/her to observe and document signs and indicators of impairment with each of the seven drug categories including illicit and prescription drugs. This training allows DREs to make arrests and remove impaired drivers from New York State roadways regardless of the drug or drug combinations that are causing impairment. 


According to data compiled by the Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research (ITSMR), drug-involved drivers were involved in 15 percent of all fatal motor vehicle crashes in New York State in 2015, up from 11 percent in 2013. Personal injury crashes involving drug-involved drivers have been on an upward trend in recent years, increasing 14 percent between 2013 and 2015, highlighting the need of having police officers certified as DREs to better detect, identify and remove drug-involved drivers from New York State roadways. 


"I congratulate these law enforcement officers and commend them for their dedication to expanding their skills and training so they can help to address a growing problem on New York’s roadways," said New York State Police Superintendent George P. Beach II. “Whether an individual is impaired from the use of prescription drugs or illegal drugs, it is still drugged driving and it poses a serious danger to everyone on our roadways. The addition of these trained officers will reinforce and strengthen our efforts to keep drugged and impaired drivers off of our roadways so that we can keep New York’s highways among the safest in the nation.”


As part of their intensive training, DRE graduates must successfully complete a three-part phased program prior to being certified. The first phase consists of a two-day curriculum followed by a certification test to advance to the next phase of the program. The second phase, which encompasses 72 classroom hours, results in a final knowledge exam. The third phase, a comprehensive certification training program, requires participants to observe and identify three out of the seven drug categories and take a three to four hour final knowledge exam to successfully comply with DRE regulations.


Below is a list of graduates and their affiliation:


Police Officer John Brewer

Village of Ilion Police Department

Deputy Ryan DeLong

Genesee County Sheriff’s Office

Trooper Matthew Fertoli    

New York State Police

Police Officer Travis Gray

Ogden Police Department

Trooper Jennifer Johnson

New York State Police

Trooper Brent Karow 

New York State Police
Trooper Daniel Klocek    New York State Police
Police Officer Earl Lergner  East Rochester Police Department
Trooper Samuel Lizzio  New York State Police
Police Officer Kevin Long    New York City Police Department
Deputy Skyler Miller  Ontario County Sheriff’s Office
Trooper Donald Oechslin New York State Police
Trooper Catherine RoundsNew York State Police
Police Officer Steven RoundsOxford Village Police Department
Police Officer David SteinwandelWest Seneca Police Department
Deputy Joseph TobiasOntario County Sheriff’s Office
Police Officer Konstantin VithoulkasNew York City Police Department
Police Officer Matthew WojtaszczykCity of Batavia Police Department


In 2016, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced a public service campaign to raise awareness about the dangers of drugged driving in New York State. The public service announcement, titled “Drugged Driving is Impaired Driving,” was developed by the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee and can be viewed here.


Officers selected to attend the DRE program must have a history of being proactive within their community and be well-versed in DWI detection. Only a handful of the large number of DRE applicants are selected to attend the extensive training which is paid for by the GTSC.


See more information on the DRE program.