MARIETTA, Ga. -- "Alcohol is no longer the key contributing factor in DUI cases," said Marietta Police Officer David Baldwin. "With the dramatic rise in the abuse of prescription medications, bath salts and spice marijuana, alcohol is now only a contributing factor for most DUI's."
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Most law enforcement departments have a lot of officers who are certified in Standardized Field Sobriety, which concentrates on the detection of alcohol while driving.
Marietta's Police Department is one of many that has stepped up the fight against the growing epidemic of synthetic drugs, by certifying officers and Drug Recognition Experts (DRE). DREs are trained to differentiate what drugs a person may be under the influence of.
Marietta now has three DREs and one DRE instructor on its Selective Traffic Enforcement Program Unit (STEP). Officers must complete a rigorous six months of training to be certified and classified as an expert witness in court.
Officer Michael Gardner is a certified DRE. "What we're trained to do is take the investigation further and figure out what is causing the impairment, what drugs are contributing to the driver's behavior," he said.
Officer Gardner said a trained officer can sometimes tell what drug is involved by looking at the driver's eyes. "We're also looking for clinical indicators that may change that (drivers) cannot control, such as their blood pressure, their body temperature, their muscle tone," he said.