Drug Evaluation and Classification: Review of the Program and Opportunities for Enhancement

The use of psychoactive drugs by drivers poses a risk to traffic safety and presents a significant challenge to law enforcement. Whereas the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFST) and breath testing technology have become invaluable tools in enforcement efforts to combat alcohol-impaired driving, determining driver impairment by drugs has proven to be considerably more complex. Foremost, there are numerous types of drugs, many of which have effects that differ dramatically from those of alcohol. In addition, unlike alcohol, most drugs cannot be readily measured in breath at the side of the road. The lack of tools and procedures to adequately assess drivers for impairment due to drugs other than alcohol was a serious gap in law enforcement efforts to remove these high-risk drivers from the road. The Drug Evaluation and Classification Program (DECP) was developed to help fill this void. Since its inception in the late 1970s, the DECP has been adopted by every state as well as Canada and has served as the basis for similar programs in other countries. Despite its widespread use, the program is not without its challenges. The program involves a detailed assessment protocol that requires ample training. Only a select group of officers have the opportunity and desire to acquire the specialized skills required to become proficient in the techniques of the DECP. The results of the assessment are not always readily accepted by the courts and are subject to numerous challenges. Nevertheless, the DECP continues to grow and has become a central component of the response to drug-impaired driving. The purpose of this report is to examine the evidence supporting the DECP and to identify opportunities for potential improvements that would serve to strengthen the program. The specific objectives of the project were to: (1) Conduct a review of the literature on the DECP to identify the strengths and limitations of the program; (2) Investigate and identify opportunities and make recommendations to bolster the DECP program, the DECP assessment protocol, the DECP training, and the DECP certification and re-certification process; and (3) Determine the approach and potential obstacles that may be involved in implementing recommended improvements to the DECP.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Features: Appendices; Figures; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 94p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01707652
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Jun 7 2019 3:11PM