Press Release - 10-26-2018

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Friday, October 26, 2018

Lisa Koumjian            
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Darren Boysen
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Program Strengthens State’s Efforts to Prevent Drugged Driving on New York Roadways

270 Drug Recognition Experts Now Certified Statewide

Photos of the Ceremony Available on DMV’s Flickr Page


 The Governor's Traffic Safety Committee (GTSC) and the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) this week recognized nine 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 officers was held this week at the New York State Police Academy in Albany, New York. With this graduating class, New York now has 270 certified DREs across the state.

“Drug Recognition Experts are becoming increasingly valuable traffic safety resources as the rate of drug-impaired driving crashes climbs,” said Acting GTSC Chair and DMV Executive Deputy Commissioner Terri Egan. “DREs are highly trained to spot the signs of impairment, remove dangerous drivers from our roadways and help prevent tragedies. We are proud to support this important training and congratulate all of the graduating officers on this significant accomplishment.”

Below is a list of graduates and their affiliation:

Graduates of the Drug Recognition Expert Program
David BastNew York State Police
Michael DeFranceCity of Kingston Police Department
Michael LococoArcade Police Department
Cody LuebbertLewis County Sheriff's Office
Nicholas MoorePlattsburgh Police Department
Adam NortonNew York State Police
Jevon PakkalaNew York State Police
Joseph SparacinoNew York State Police
Robert VanJohnsonNew York State Police

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 in New York.  The total number of personal injury crashes in the state involving a drug-impaired driver also rose, increasing by more than 30 percent between 2013 and 2016. These increases highlight the need for DREs, who are trained to better detect, identify and remove drug-impaired drivers from New York State roadways.


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 complete an additional 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. So far this year, 47 law enforcement officers have completed the training. 

New York State Police Superintendent George P. Beach II said, “I congratulate the graduates and commend them for their dedication to expanding their training to help to fight a growing problem on New York’s roadways. A driver under the influence of drugs, prescription or illegal, is just as dangerous as driving drunk and poses a serious danger to everyone on our roadways. With these additional skills, these officers strengthen our efforts to keep all impaired drivers off our roads, making them safer for all who travel them.”

Learn more about the DRE program on the Governor’s Traffic Safety website.

For more information about GTSC, visit, or follow the GTSC conversation at Facebook and Twitter.

To learn more about the NYS DMV, visit, or follow the DMV conversation online at Facebook and Twitter.