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Drug Recognition Expert Program

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Iowa Drug Evaluation and Classification Program

In 1991, Iowa was the 24th state to implement the Drug Evaluation and Classification Program (DECP). Iowa has 120 active Drug Recognition Experts (DREs), including 23 instructors, working in 56 of Iowa's 99 counties. As a certified DRE, an officer is able to determine if a subject is impaired and unable to operate a motor vehicle in a safe manner. The DRE rules out medical reasons for impairment. Several cases have been documented where the DRE has saved the life of a subject by referring them to medical care. After the 12-step evaluation, the DRE determines which category of drug(s) is influencing the subject at the time of the evaluation. The goal of the DECP is to reduce drug impaired driving crashes. 

The DECP is administered by the Iowa Governor's Traffic Safety Bureau with training funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) and NHTSA developed the training curriculum for certification and re-certification of the officers as DRE.

The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) laboratory conducts the toxicologic testing for the DRE program. The successful prosecution of a DRE case is dependent upon the teamwork of the DRE, DCI Lab, the local County Attorney's Office and the Prosecuting Attorney's Training Council (PATC).

There are currently 50 states participating in the DECP with over 10,000 DREs and instructors nationwide.


Watch KCRG-TV's Report on the Iowa DRE Program

Agency Responsibilities

Agencies that wish to participate in the DRE Program should be aware of the following commitments and expectations.

  • Strong agency support for traffic enforcement
  • Ongoing OWI public information and education
  • A training commitment of 20 days

Participating agencies are requested to demonstrate their commitment to the DECP in several ways:

  • Encourage the DRE to aggressively seek opportunities to utilize their expertise
  • Allow the DRE to respond to calls for DRE evaluations whenever possible
  • Make themselves available to County Attorneys on impaired driving cases.

DRE Candidates

DRE candidates must meet the following criteria:

  • Certified peace officer with extensive OWI and traffic enforcement background to include courtroom testimony;
  • Standardized Field Sobriety Testing (SFST) certified in OWI/traffic enforcement and prosecution;
  • Submit a letter and subsequent application for review

The DRE training consists of several phases:

  • DRE School:  10 days
  • Out-of-state Certification:  8 nights

The DRE is required to maintain a log of evaluations and requests, and enter the information into the national DRE database.


DRE Training Schools

The application process for the fall 2023 DRE School is now open! I will be accepting applications through July 31, 2023. The dates and location for the DRE school are as follows:

In-state classroom: September 18-22, 2023 and September 25-29, 2023 (Drury Inn, West Des Moines). 

In-state Field Certifications: October 10-12, 2023, at Iowa State Patrol-District 1, Des Moines, IA. 

Out of State Field Certifications: October 22-30, 2023, in Jacksonville, FL.

Application forms for the fall 2023 DRE School can be found on this page under DRE Forms and then located under Student Forms. Application packets should be electronically emailed to:

Todd Olmstead, Iowa DRE Coordinator at

DRE Re-Certification Training

FFY 2023 Re-Certification Training 

May 30, 2023, Prairie Hills S.O. Training Center, 1600 Country Home Road, Sioux City, IA 51106 Registration

June 1, 2023, Joint Emergency Communications Center, 4529 Melrose Avenue, Iowa City, IA 52246  Registration

July 19, 2023, Hawkeye Community College, Buchanan Hall, 1501 E. Orange Road, Waterloo, IA 50701  Registration

August 1, 2023, Iowa State Patrol - District 1, 260 NW 48th Place, Des Moines, IA 50313 Registration

September 8, 2023, Des Moines Municipal Services Center, MSC Boardroom, 1551 E. Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway, Des Moines, IA 50315 Registration

DRE Forms

DRE Forms

DRE Awards

Iowa GTSB Drug Recognition Expert Awards

Each year, at the annual Governor's Traffic Safety Bureau Annual Conference, several awards are presented to local law enforcement officers and agencies that have had a major impact on traffic safety. Below are the awards relating to the DRE Program.  


In 1992, Polk County Deputy Sheriff Kipton Hayward was among the first officers in Iowa to be certified as a Drug Recognition Expert while he was assigned to Polk County’s Alcohol Safety Action Program, or ASAP, unit. He served in that capacity until the early morning hours of October 9, 1993, when he was on the scene of a fatality crash involving a drunk driver. While performing collision-related duties, Deputy Hayward was struck and killed by a passing motorist, who continued driving from the scene and was stopped over one mile away by an Iowa State Trooper. That driver was also found to be intoxicated by drugs and alcohol. In 1994, the Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau memorialized Deputy Hayward’s ultimate sacrifice by forming the “Kip Hayward Award”. In 1995, the GTSB began awarding one DRE officer or civilian having a significant impact on our DRE program each year at this very conference. This award was designed to select a person who epitomizes what Deputy Hayward stood for and to honor their exemplary service to the citizens of the State of Iowa in combating impaired driving. This award is a very special award amongst the DRE community and it signifies an officer or civilian reaching the highest mark in excellence to combating impaired driving.

Kip Hayward Nomination Form

2021 Kip Hayward Award Recipient

Past Kip Hayward Award Recipients

Other DRE Awards

(DRE School Class Valedictorian Award)

Jim Meyerdirk was the Iowa Drug Recognition Expert State Coordinator from 2009 until his untimely passing on May 1, 2018, just one day after announcing his retirement.  He served the Iowa Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau and the DRE community with distinction and honor.

During his time as the DRE State Coordinator, Jim worked to promote impaired driving awareness and developed innovative ways to utilize his DREs in special projects to combat impaired driving.  During those nine years, Jim eliminated DREs who were not active, he brought on several new DREs, he started ARIDE in Iowa and insisted we train officers those ARIDE techniques in person and not electronically. Jim worked with the DRE Advisory Board to make our DRE standards in Iowa more stringent than those required by the International Association of Chiefs of Police.  As a result, the Iowa DRE Program saw the largest increase in quality enforcement evaluations being done per DRE officer ever recorded in Iowa.

With Jim’s leadership, tenacity for targeting impaired drivers, and his vision, the Iowa DRE Program became nationally recognized as one of the best in the country.  Iowa was singled out for recognition in 2014 & 2015 for coming in third in the country for the amount of drug influence evaluations being done per DRE and the Iowa Program continues to rank among the best nationally every year.  In addition, those who knew Jim knew that the Class Valedictorian Award was one of his favorite awards and Jim really enjoyed watching the students compete academically.

To honor the memory of Jim, on May 16, 2018, the DRE Advisory Board unanimously decided that the DRE School Class Valedictorian Award be officially changed to the, “Jim Meyerdirk Award for Academic Excellence.”

The Spring 2023 Drug Recognition Expert School winner of the “Jim Meyerdirk Award for Academic Excellence” is Officer Joseph Weppler, Knoxville Police Department.

Previous Jim Meyerdirk Award Recipients 


DRE Annual Conference

Annual IACP Training Conference
on Drugs, Alcohol, and Impaired Driving

August 9-11, 2023, Anaheim, CA. 

Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement (A.R.I.D.E.)

A. R. I. D. E.
About the school….
          ARIDE is a free 16-hour training option bridging the gap between SFST and DRE for Law Enforcement officers.

Course Description: This is an intermediate level course designed to offer more than a basic understanding of the impairing effects of drugs (illicit and licit), alcohol, and/or the combination of both. The officer must be able to administer and interpret the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test for alcohol‐impaired suspects, and be proficient in the administration and evaluation of the battery of tests involved with SFST. The officer will be required to pass an SFST proficiency examination the first day of training. The student who successfully completes this training will be able to recognize that an individual may be under the influence of a drug or drugs other than alcohol, or under the combined influence of alcohol and other drugs, or suffering from some injury or illness that produces signs similar to alcohol/drug impairment. Additionally, the student will be able to recognize the broad category or categories of drugs inducing the observable signs of impairment. County Attorney’s and Law enforcement officers actively involved in proactive OWI and traffic law enforcement are encouraged to attend this hands-on intensive two day training program. County Attorneys are encouraged to attend all or any part of the two day training.  All training aids, materials and supplies will be provided at no cost to the participant by GTSB.

Courses are Limited to the First 30 Registrants

Upcoming A.R.I.D.E. Training:                       

January 11-12, 2024 Altoona Police Department, Altoona, IA 50009 2024 ARIDE Altoona January 11-12

January 18-19, 2024 Centerville Police Department, Centerville, IA 2024 ARIDE Centerville January 18-19

February 7-8, 2024 Plymouth County S.O. LeMars, IA 2024 ARIDE Plymouth County February 7-8

February 21-22, 2024 Decorah City Hall, Decorah, IA 2024 ARIDE Decorah February 21-22

For additional information contact:

Todd Olmstead, State of Iowa DRE Program Manager
Phone 515.725.6122