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Cedar Rapids OWI Lawyer: What is the DRE interview of the arresting officer in a Cedar Rapids, Iowa OWI (DUI) Investigation?

by David A. Cmelik Law PLC

The so-called DRE protocol includes passing the baton from a relatively untrained patrol officer to a drug recognition expert, or, DRE, in cases where standardized field sobriety (SFST) may not produce an arrest and officers suspect the ingestion of one of seven types of intoxicants other than alcohol.


The interview of the arresting officer is compared to a physician taking a patient history.


“This step is analogous to the interview an emergency room physician conducts when an unconscious individual is brought by ambulance to the hospital. The physician will of course inquire of the ambulance attendants as to how long the person has been in that state, if the person has come in and out of consciousness, and so forth.”


See The Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) Response to the Drug Impaired Driver: An Overview of the DRE Program, Officer, and Procedures by Thomas

E. Page, (available at:


With all due respect, this step is *not* analogous to a doctor taking a history from a first-responder because DREs are not medical professionals and are out of their depth when they attempt to diagnose patients and use medical equipment. Because of Iowa’s liberal expert testimony rules, however, DRE evidence has been admitted in Iowa courts. It isn’t automatic, however, and a trained attorney should review electronic media including in-dash, wireless microphone, and body camera recordings from the date of any arrest by a purported DRE.


Unfortunately, DRE mythology has attained at least some juridical status as this folklore is repeated more often by officers asserting scientific knowledge of the so-called protocol and included in reported cases. ​Arrestees snared by a so-called DRE in a Cedar Rapids, Iowa OWI (DUI) should contact an attorney practicing exclusively in the area of criminal law and licensed to practice law in the State of Iowa to explore his or her options.

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.

Just the facts.  The second phase of the DRE protocol is the interview of the arresting officer. This assumes, as is likely, that SFST trained officers will be the first to test and arrest an OWI test subject. A DRE will arrive on scene if the SFST/ARIDE officer suspects intoxication by one of seven types of drugs other than alcohol and will need to get up to speed on what has so far occurred during a traffic stop or LEO encounter. Unfortunately, DREs aren't doctors and some information may get lost in translation. ​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.

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