The North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT) along with the North Dakota Highway Patrol, unveiled new campaign material for the Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) Program at press conferences in Bismarck and Fargo. The program trains police officers to recognize impairment in drivers under the influence of drugs.
North Dakota started participating in the program in 1999 with 4 Drug Recognition Experts in Fargo, there are now 45 in the state. The DRE program trains police officers to recognize impairment in drivers under the influence of drugs other than, or in addition to, alcohol.
The program is important because it is a common belief that if someone is arrested and charged with a DUI, it was because they registered over the legal limit for alcohol consumption. However, this is not always the case. Any substance, even prescription medication, which can render you incapable of operating a motor vehicle, can get you arrested for a DUI.
"The public needs to be aware they can receive a DUI even if they have not been consuming alcohol," states Mark Nelson, NDDOT Safety Division Director. "Drugged driving is just as dangerous as drunk driving."
"Designating a driver is not only important when consuming alcohol. It is also important when an individual is prescribed medication that may impair their ability to drive," says Sergeant Tom Iverson of the North Dakota Highway Patrol. "The reason law enforcement is involved with the DRE program is to educate the public about this issue, so we can help save lives around the state."