Drug impairment is a significant issue that could jeopardize one’s safety and productivity. That’s why drug testing and impairment evaluation are essential to maintain safety standards. Consequently, law enforcement, employers, and medical practitioners use drug impairment testing to identify drug-impaired individuals. Across the United States, the Drug Evaluation and Classification (DEC) and Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) programs are the standardized procedures for the drug impairment evaluation. Here’s a comprehensive guide to drug impairment test.
I. What is drug impairment testing?
Drug impairment testing is a series of evaluations used to determine the level of drug influence on a person’s ability to operate a vehicle or perform a task safely. It encompasses a range of tests curated at detecting a variety of drugs, including illegal drugs, prescription drugs, and alcohol.
II. Drug Evaluation and Classification (DEC) Program
The DEC program is an examination taken by police officers for certification to evaluate impaired drivers. The DEC program is meant to train and certify police officers with the skills and knowledge to identify and evaluate drug-impaired drivers. The DEC program is a 12-step comprehensive course that focuses on identifying signs and symptoms of drug impairment based on observation, physical examination, and behavioral evaluations. Some of the signs of drug impairment include dilated pupils, sleepiness, bloodshot eyes, poor coordination, poor motor skills, and flushed face. The DEC program also includes a standardized set of evaluations that officers use to identify the categories of drugs responsible for the impairment.
III. Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) Program
The Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) program is similar to the DEC program, but more specialized. It trains law enforcement officers to identify and evaluate individuals under the influence of drugs other than just alcohol. DRE is a 12-step program that involves four phases which includes a face to face interview with the drug-impaired individual, physical observation of the person, a walk and turn test, horizontal gaze nystagmus test, the one-leg stand test, and blood pressure screening. The officers use this information to determine the type of drug responsible for the impairment. However, it is noteworthy that a DRE certified police officer’s testimony alone is not sufficient evidence in a court of law.
IV. Workplace and Medical Impairment Testing
Drug evaluations are not only exclusive to law enforcement authorities. Employers can also require drug impairment testing for individuals in safety-sensitive positions, as it is a crucial component of the company’s safety policy. Medical practitioners can also perform impairment testing when treating a patient experiencing drug abuse.
Companies and healthcare facilities usually conduct urine testing for drugs and drug metabolites, which can detect previous drug use but does not confirm current on-the-job drug abuse. Furthermore, a Z-score interpretation of laboratory results helps employers and medical practitioners be confident that readings are accurate.
In conclusion, drug impairment testing is an essential process that reestablishes workplace safety and personal safety. It helps in identifying individuals who are unfit to operate machinery or perform crucial tasks due to intoxication or drug use. Conversely, if an individual is found to be impaired, this can lead to employment or legal consequences. Nevertheless, it is worth noting that drug impairment testing procedures do have limitations, and the results should not be taken as the final judgment. It should nonetheless serve as a useful tool in identifying drug-impaired individuals. Overall, drug impairment testing serves a pivotal role in ensuring public safety.