Pubdate: 18 Aug, 1999
Source: Herald, The (WA)
Copyright: 1999 The Daily Herald Co.
Author: Jennifer Poll


I'm writing to express my disgust and anger upon reading the Aug. 8 front
page article, "Drugged driving: Alcohol's not the only substance that
impairs drivers." I think it's fair to say that no one wants seriously
impaired drivers on the road. The state's Drug Recognition Expert program,
however, is going too far.

According to the article, Snohomish County officers, deputies and troopers
no longer need any kind of evidence to arrest a citizen, just a feeling
that something's wrong. After the arrest, the citizen is jailed or
hospitalized and subjected to a battery of invasive tests by these
so-called experts in an effort to try and determine if there really is
anything wrong. Though they boast an 85 percent accuracy rate, they
conveniently fail to mention what portion of that 85 percent falls into
legal categories such as caffeine consumption, over-the-counter and
prescription medications. Furthermore, this number can be of little comfort
to the completely innocent 15 percent who were needlessly arrested, jailed
and degraded.

In addition, I found much of the DRE's symptoms list to be a curious thing
indeed. Confronted with these Gestapo tactics, who wouldn't exhibit a high
level of anxiety or paranoia, and I shudder to imagine how they determine
one's "loss of appetite, insomnia, and elevated pain threshold."

The DRE program is clearly another example of the government's methodical
destruction of our civil liberties in the name of the failed war on drugs.


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