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Cedar Rapids OWI Lawyer: What is ARIDE testing?

by David A. Cmelik Law PLC


ARIDE, or, Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement is a training protocol developed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the International Association of Chiefs of Police to “bridge” the gap as between traditional standardized field sobriety testing (SFST) and purportedly more stringent DRE, or, Drug Recognition Expertise.

Law enforcement officers and trainers admit that ARIDE is not a substitute for so-called Drug Recognition Expertise (DRE).

However, the two-day training program does allow those proficient with standardized field sobriety testing (SFST) to become more familiar with the seven categories of drug impairment targeted by both ARIDE and DRE, including: CNS depressants, CNS stimulants, hallucinogens, dissociative anesthetics, narcotic analgesics, inhalants, and cannabis.

Interestingly, ARIDE and DRE experts distinguish between depressant and stimulant impairment in this way: while those abusing depressants will mimic alcohol intoxication, stimulant abuse will purportedly appear “under the influence.”

Such symptoms are alleged by law enforcement and ARIDE/DRE proponents to include: “restlessness, abrupt movement, dilated pupils, irritability, rigid muscles, bruxism, and body tremors.”

Bruxism is defined as tooth wear and breakage as a result clenching and grinding.

Query whether law enforcement officers exceed their medical expertise with such observations and diagnoses.

Similarly, ARIDE and DRE officers are ostensibly trained to be on the lookout for symptoms of hallucinogen use like LSD, psilocybin mushrooms, and MDMA. Unfortunately, law enforcement lacks the medical expertise to conduct mental health observation that would require identification of, for example, paranoia and hallucinations necessary to identify the abuse of hallucinogenic drugs.

ARIDE and DRE expertise is said to identify blank stare, rigid muscles, hallucinations, non-communicative, and slow, delayed speech in those who abuse dissociative anesthetics.

DRE and ARIDE proponents encourage law enforcement officers to test subjects’ pulse and blood pressure as if the officer is a registered nurse or doctor. ARIDE trained officers are urged to look for “tired appearance,” droopy eyelids, constricted pupils, fresh injection sites, decreased pulse and blood pressure, and very soft muscle tone in those who may be abusing narcotic analgesics.

ARIDE officers look for different symptoms for those who “huff” inhalants like paint and pressurized whip cream cans. Since marijuana use is considered common, ARIDE and DRE experts supposedly look to see if test subjects have “heat blisters” on their tongues. 


See Overview of the Drug Evaluation and Classification Program April 28, 2015 by Paul Batcheller et al (available at: http://www.extension.iastate.edu/registration/events/conferences/gtsb/presentations/Batcheller%20-%20GTSB%20Conference%202015.pdf).


Someone who is charged with an offense identified by so-called ARIDE “expertise” from a two day course should consult an attorney who may seek out medical experts to counter the folklore that has become ARIDE and DRE “science.”


If you or a loved one has been arrested for Operating While Intoxicated, or, impaired, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, Waterloo, or other Iowa community, contact David A. Cmelik Law PLC at 319-389-1889 for a free initial consultation and begin charting your course back to life before legal crisis. However, remember that a blog is not legal advice and that sending unsolicited information to an attorney over the Internet does not establish an attorney-client relationship.

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What's up Doc? ARIDE training purports to "bridge the gap" between standardized field sobriety testing (SFST) accepted for decades and so-called DRE, or, Drug Recognition Expertise, that includes a paramedical component and may exceed the expertise of patrol officers without scientific and medical training.  If you or a loved one has been arrested for OWI in Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, Waterloo, or other Iowa community, ​contact David A. Cmelik Law PLC at 319-389-1889.