Press Release - 06-20-2018

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June 20, 2018

Lisa Koumjian            
[email protected]       



Program Strengthens State’s Efforts to Prevent Drugged Driving on New York Roadways

More than 270 Drug Recognition Experts Now Certified Statewide 


The Governor's Traffic Safety Committee (GTSC) and the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) this week recognized 22 law enforcement officers from across New York State who recently completed extensive training and are now nationally-certified Drug Recognition Experts (DREs). A graduation ceremony honoring the graduates was held this week in Genesee County. With this graduating class, New York now has 277 certified DREs across the state.

“Keeping our roadways clear of dangerous drivers is crucial to preventing tragedies,” said Acting GTSC Chair and DMV Executive Deputy Commissioner Terri Egan. “Drug Recognition Experts are an invaluable traffic safety resource that allow state and local law enforcement to better protect all motorists.  We are proud to support this training and I congratulate all of today’s graduating officers on their accomplishment.”

DREs are utilized by law enforcement officials when a driver appears to be impaired, but police have ruled out alcohol as the cause or sole cause of impairment. A DRE receives extensive training that has been approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP). The training allows officers to observe and document signs and indicators of impairment within each of seven drug categories including illicit and prescription drugs. DREs can make arrests and remove impaired drivers from New York State roadways regardless of the drug or drug combinations that are causing impairment. 

As part of their training, DRE graduates must successfully complete a three-part program prior to being certified.  The first two phases include a two-day introductory course, followed by 72 hours of classroom instruction and a final exam. In the third phase, participants are required to observe and identify three out of the seven drug categories and take a four-to-five-hour final knowledge exam to successfully comply with national DRE regulations. After successfully completing the training, all DRE officers are certified for two years and are expected to meet certain requirements to be considered for re-certification at the end of this period.

Officers selected to participate in the DRE program must have a history of being proactive within their community and be well-trained in DWI detection. Only a handful of the large number of DRE applicants are selected to attend the training, which is sponsored by the GTSC and New York State STOP-DWI Foundation.

Below is a list of graduates and their affiliation:

Matthew Grainge  —  Niagara County Sheriff’s Office

Leighton Filiatrault  —  St. Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office

Derik Plaisted  —  New York State Police

Chad Martin  —  New York State Police

Adam McAdoo  —  Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office

Christopher McKimmie  —  Niagara Falls Police Department

Marc Lieman  —  Town of Ramapo Police Department

John Youngman  —  Town of Ramapo Police Department

Lynnea Nordberg  —  New York State Police

Thomas Eggert  —  New York State Police

Richard Schildwaster  —  Genesee County Sheriff’s Office

Ryan Young  —  Genesee County Sheriff’s Office

Jeremy Liggett  —  City of Schenectady Police Department

Eric Owens  —  City of Schenectady Police Department

Amy Nowak  —  Wyoming County Sheriff’s Office

Michael Loncar  —  North Tonawanda Police Department

Ryan Aylor  —  Olean Police Department

Matthew Thomas  —  Livingston County Sheriff’s Office

Christian Kosmoski  —  New York State Police

John Vadas  —  Brockport Police Department

Lance Barber  —  Washington County Sheriff’s Department

John Clinkhammer  —  Rochester Police Department

New York State Police Superintendent George P. Beach II said, “Driving while under the influence of drugs is just as dangerous as driving while impaired by alcohol. The Drug Recognition Expert program provides our members and law enforcement partners with vital training to help them recognize the signs and behaviors associated with drugged driving. With these additional skills, these trained officers strengthen our efforts to keep drugged and impaired drivers off our roadways so we can keep our highways safer for all. I congratulate all of the graduates and applaud their commitment to protecting all New Yorkers.”

According to data compiled by the Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research (ITSMR), the number of fatal crashes involving a drug-impaired driver increased by nearly 31 percent between 2013 and 2016.  The total number of crashes involving a drug-impaired driver also rose, increasing by more than 27 percent between 2013 and 2016.   These increases highlight the need to have police officers certified as DREs to better detect, identify and remove drug-impaired drivers from New York State roadways.

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 at YouTube.

See more information on the DRE program.