Expert Insights: Testifying in Court as a Drug Recognition Expert

Expert Insights: Testifying in Court as a Drug Recognition Expert, an eLearning course, is designed to support Drug Recognition Experts (DREs) as they prepare to appear as witnesses in drug-impaired driving trials. Throughout the course, experts in the fields of law enforcement and prosecution share advice on enhancing courtroom presence and testimony skills, in addition to examining some of the challenges of testifying in impaired driving cases.


Title slide of the course

Arizona POST Approved Course
AZPOST does not require the standard approval form for this course; however, if you would like one, please contact AZPOST directly at [email protected].

Course Overview

This course explores the role of the DRE witness, fundamental courtroom rules and processes, case file preparation, and personal preparation, recognizing that the groundwork for successful testimony is multi-faceted.  Learners interact with the content sequentially, beginning with the preparation required before appearance as a DRE witness at a trial, the expert witness testimony during the direct examination, cross-examination by the defense attorney, and considerations after the conclusion of the trial.

While tailored to officers who are DREs, this eLearning course is not part of the process of qualifying for or certifying an individual as a DRE.

Target Audience

Expert Insights: Testifying in Court as a Drug Recognition Expert is intended for law enforcement officers who have previously completed the Drug Evaluation and Classification (DEC) Program or are already DREs. Although primarily intended for DREs, this course is also appropriate for prosecutors as a guide to working with DREs to prepare for drug-impaired driving trials.

Cooperative Partners

This tuition-free online training was developed by the National Center for Policing Innovation (NCPI), formerly known as the Virginia Center for Policing Innovation, in partnership with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and was supported by cooperative agreement 2020-CK-WXK-037 by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS).

Learning Objectives

  • Identify the role of the witness in an impaired driving case
  • Describe the common courtroom routines and the roles of the courtroom participants
  • Explain the connection between a detailed report and an effective trial testimony
  • Articulate relevant evidence as it relates to case preparation and prosecution
  • Prepare a comprehensive case file for effective courtroom presentation
  • Identify resources for preparing to qualify as an expert witness
  • Describe strategies for communicating effectively with the prosecution team
  • Explain the importance of the outcome of a voir dire examination
  • Identify standards regarding the admissibility of expert testimony
  • Describe the chronology of an effective testimony
  • Recall types of questions posed by the prosecutor during direct examination
  • Explain how to structure detailed answers to open-ended questions
  • Recall types of objections made during direct examination
  • Describe appropriate reactions to objections made during the direct examination
  • Recall fundamental courtroom rules for witness testimony
  • List techniques used by the defense attorney during a cross-examination
  • Describe effective ways to respond to questions during a cross-examination
  • Identify common defense challenges to the DRE protocol
  • Demonstrate effective responses to common defense challenges to the DRE protocol
  • Explain the importance of updating the curriculum vitae of a DRE at the conclusion of a trial
  • Discuss the value of obtaining post-trial feedback from the prosecutor as a way to reflect on witness performance
  • Identify sources for professional development resources for DREs
  • Explore case law that relates to DRE cases

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is responsible for keeping people safe on America’s roadways. Through enforcing vehicle performance standards and partnerships with state and local governments, NHTSA reduces deaths, injuries, and economic losses from motor vehicle crashes.

National Center for Policing Innovation

The National Center for Policing Innovation (NCPI), formerly known as the Virginia Center for Policing Innovation, is a nonprofit organization that provides innovative community policing training, technical assistance, and program management services to law enforcement organizations and the communities they serve throughout the United States.