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Drug Recognition Expert-DRE Unit

The Fullerton Police Department is a proud leader in Driving Under the Influence (DUI) Enforcement and Education through the Standard Field Sobriety Testing (SFST) Program,  the Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement (ARIDE) Program, and the Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) Program. In partnership with the Orange County District Attorney’s Office, the California Office of Traffic Safety, and the California Highway Patrol, Fullerton PD offers all three courses multiple times throughout the year. These classes are open to Peace Officers from any accredited, POST Certified Law Enforcement Agency at no cost to their respective agency. 

Fullerton PD is one of only three Law Enforcement Agencies in the State of California that is POST approved to teach their own DRE School, which consists of a two week school and numerous Field Certifications dates. We currently have 42 DRE trained officers and 10 DRE Instructor officers of various ranks within our organization. Fullerton PD has had the pleasure of teaching these classes to officers from all over the state of California and beyond, giving officers the important tools necessary to reduce DUI.


The use of Standardized Field Sobriety Testing (SFST) is an effective means of identifying, apprehending and prosecuting impaired drivers.  Officers trained in National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) curricula-based SFSTs have gained acceptance and approval throughout the United States primarily due to their accuracy and effectiveness.  The SFST Program makes this valuable training available to agencies to train personnel in SFSTs.


The Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement (ARIDE) program was developed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) with input from the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) Technical Advisory Panel (TAP) and the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police.  ARIDE was created to address the gap in training between the Standardized Field Sobriety Testing (SFST) and the Drug Evaluation and Classification (DEC) Program.

ARIDE is intended to bridge the gap between these two programs by providing officers with general knowledge related to drug impairment and by promoting the use of DREs in states that have the DEC Program.  One of the more significant aspects of ARIDE is its review and required student demonstration of the SFST proficiency requirements. Officers attending this course must have already successfully passed SFST school.

This course will train law enforcement officers to observe, identify, and articulate the signs of impairment related to drugs, alcohol or a combination of both, in order to reduce the number of impaired drivers and impaired driving related traffic collisions.  This course will train other criminal justice professionals (prosecutors, toxicologists, etc.) to understand the signs of impairment related to drugs, alcohol, or a combination of both and enable them to effectively work with law enforcement in order to reduce the number of impaired drivers and impaired driving related traffic collisions.


The DRE certification process involves two parts: a 72-hour classroom course and a separate 32-hour field certification course. Both are required in order to certify as a DRE.
A DRE conducts a detailed, diagnostic examination of persons arrested or suspected of drug-impaired driving or similar offenses. Based on the results of the drug evaluation, the DRE forms an expert opinion on the following:

  1. Is the person impaired? If so, is the person able to operate a vehicle safely? If the DRE concludes that the person is impaired…
  2. Is the impairment due to an injury, illness or other medical complication, or is it drug-related? If the impairment is due to drugs…
  3. Which category or combination of categories of drugs is the most likely source of the impairment?
DREs conduct their evaluations in a controlled environment, typically at police precincts, intake centers, troop headquarters or other locations where impaired drivers are transported after arrest. The drug evaluation is not normally done at roadside and is typically a post-arrest procedure.

In some cases, the person evaluated will be a driver the DRE personally arrested. In many cases, however, the DRE will be called upon to conduct the evaluation after the driver was arrested by another officer. The DRE is requested to assist in the investigation because of his special expertise and skills in identifying drug impairment.

The DRE drug evaluation takes approximately one hour to complete. The DRE evaluates and assesses the person’s appearance and behavior. The DRE also carefully measures and records vital signs and makes precise observations of the person’s automatic responses and reactions. The DRE also administers carefully designed psychophysical tests to evaluate the person’s judgment, information processing ability, coordination and various other characteristics. The DRE will systematically consider everything about the person that could indicate the influence of drugs.

Interested in attending one of our upcoming classes? Contact Training Assistant Patricia Arevalo at (714) 738-6749 or at parevalo@fullertonpd.org .

FPD DRE UNIT Contacts:

Lieutenant Jon Radus - DRE Coordinator   jradus@fullertonpd.org
Sergeant Ryan O'Neil - DRE Coordinator roneil@fullertopd.org 
Corporal Billy Phu – DRE Coordinator   bphu@fullertonpd.org
CLO Kristy Wells - DRE Administrator    kwells@fullertonpd.org