Program helps ID drug users behind wheel

An Advanced Roadside Impairment Driving Enforcement, or ARIDE, training was recently sponsored by the Warren County DUI Program to help police officers identify drivers under the influence of drugs.

Chief Todd Mineweaser of the host Youngsville Borough Police Department said that officers from Youngsville, Warren, Conewango Township, Warren and Forest counties sheriff departments, Franklin, Bradford and Indiana, plus Pennsylvania State Police from Warren, Kane and the Pittsburgh area attended the training.

He said that Advanced Roadside Impairment Driving Enforcement is a program developed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) with input from the International Association of Chiefs of Police Technical Advisory Board and the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police.

ARIDE was created to address the gap between the Standard Field Sobriety Testing (SFST) and the Drug Evaluation and Classification (DEC) Programs.

“The SFST program trains officers to identify and assess drivers suspected of being under the influence of alcohol while the DEC program provides more advanced training to evaluate suspected drug impairment. The SFST assessment is typically employed at roadside while an officer trained as a drug recognition expert, or DRE, conducts a drug evaluation in a more controlled environment such as the barracks or a detention facility,” Mineweaser said.

“ARIDE is intended to bridge the gap between these two programs by providing officers with general knowledge related to drugged driver impairment, and by promoting the use of DREs in states that have the DEC program, which Pennsylvania does have.”

“One of the more significant aspects of ARIDE is its review and required student demonstration of the SFST proficiency requirements. The ARIDE program also stresses the importance of securing the most appropriate biological sample in order to identify substances likely causing impairment.”

ARIDE is a 16-hour training course taught by DRE instructors from across the state. This training also promotes interaction with representatives from the state’s prosecution community.

“The training is only for municipal police, sheriff deputies and state troopers who have been certified as an SFST practitioner in a NHTSA approved course. All officers in attendance had to demonstrate their proficiency with SFST on the first morning in order to complete the full ARIDE curriculum, and students had to pass a final written exam,” he said.

This training will help officers recognize impaired drivers under the influence, and type, of drugs, such as depressants, inhalants, stimulants or cannabis.