(COLORADO) — 16 law enforcement officers from across the state of Colorado will take the Colorado Department of Transportation’s (CDOT) advanced roadside impairment testing course in order to spot impairment on Colorado roads.

CDOT said one-third of fatal crashes in Colorado are linked to drivers impaired by drugs, alcohol or a combination of substances, so this advanced training for law enforcement is crucial. CDOT said in 2021, the most recent year of data available, Colorado saw an increase in fatalities involving drivers who tested over the 5ng limit for active Delta-9 THC, the impairing substance in cannabis. Combining cannabis and alcohol is common and can lead to significant impairment, CDOT said. 

The 16 officers will attend the training program to earn their Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) certification beginning Monday, Jan. 9.

Once they complete their training, DRE certified officers will join the 179 active certified officers in Colorado who are trained to spot drivers under the influence of alcohol or drugs. According to the Drug Evaluation Classification (DEC) Program annual report, of the 116 drug enforcement evaluations performed in 2021, 56 of those were cannabis evaluations – the highest amount of evaluations of any drug category.

Officers will train in a combination of classroom settings and “wet labs”- mock roadside impairment investigations. Test subjects will drink alcohol to varying levels of impairment, to then be screened by law enforcement.

The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) coordinates the International Drug Evaluation and Classification (DEC) Program with support from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) of the U.S. Department of Transportation. The Colorado DRE program began in 1987.