Contact Us Today! 206-504-2500


Washington Police Officers Trained to be "Drug-Recognition Experts"

Posted by Aaron J. Wolff | Aug 13, 2013 | 0 Comments

It can be relatively easy to spot a drunk driver. However, the signs of a driver under the influence of drugs can be much tougher to spot. As a result, the State of Washington has trained more than 200 police officers around the state to be "Drug-Recognition Experts" to help make this determination, reports

Just as Washington state law limits the blood alcohol content to 0.08, state law also limits the level of pot someone can smoke and drive at five nanograms of THC per millimeter of blood.

While a blood test may be a quick and accurate way to determine someone's THC level, the reality is that it may not always be easy to get a warrant to obtain a blood sample. Instead, police officers will need to rely on other measures to determine if someone is too stoned to drive.

Training police officers to make these determinations of drugged driving has been a focus in Washington State. More than 200 police officers have undergone a two-week course to help them pick out impaired drivers and to look for signs of drugged driving. These officers are trained on the nuances of drug use and its effect on driving. Some signs of drugged driving that an officer may look for can include:

  • Eye Test. An officer will have the suspect follow a pen-sized light from left to right. Impaired drivers may have trouble tracking the light and the pupils may not dilate properly.
  • Alphabet Recital. This not only tests how well you can recite the alphabet, but police officers will also look out for slurred speech as well as any odors from the suspect's breath.
  • Walk and Turn. This test will gauge a suspect's motor abilities.

Prior to a stop, an officer may also look out for erratic driving like trouble staying in lanes, delayed reactions at stop lights, and driving well below the speed limit.

As you can see, police officers rely on many different variables to help determine whether a driver is impaired. However, just because an officer stops you and makes an arrest, this does not necessarily mean that you are guilty of a DUI.

Police officers do make mistakes and sometimes bad driving is simply bad driving with no ties to impairment. So if you are charged with the crime of driving under the influence, you should talk to an experienced attorney to learn your defenses and options.

Contact the DUI defense attorneys at Wolff Criminal Defense to learn more. If you have a specific question about your case in the Seattle or King County areas, schedule a consultation by calling 425-284-2000.

About the Author

Aaron J. Wolff

A former DUI prosecutor, Aaron Wolff has over 18 years of experience in representing people accused of DUI and is recognized as one of the leading defense lawyers in Washington State. His relentless and passionate advocacy has lead to superb ratings and outstanding reviews from former clients.


There are no comments for this post. Be the first and Add your Comment below.

Leave a Comment

Personalized and Prompt Attention

I pride myself in giving personalized and prompt attention to your case.

The Wolff Defense Difference

Experience. Passion. Innovation. Please contact us immediately for a free initial consultation.