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Georgia Public Safety Training Center preps law enforcement for advanced DUI certification

The Georgia Public Safety Training Center teaches law enforcement the skills to determine if someone has drugs or alcohol in their system.

FORSYTH, Ga. — The Georgia Public Safety Training Center is training law enforcement how to know when someone is under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Michael Blute is a coordinator for the Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) program. It's a more advanced DUI impairment course that the basic roadside sobriety course law enforcement are trained. 

"They have a formalized process, it's very standardized, very systematic that they complete. It takes about 45 minutes to an hour. It's post-arrest, so the person's been arrested before. They do an evaluation to help determine the cause of the impairment," Blute said.

Blute says since the program focuses on after an arrest, the trainees are taught how to recognize vital signs, signs and symptoms of drug and alcohol use and different categories of drugs like marijuana, cocaine, opioids. 

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, 11,654 people died in alcohol-impaired driving traffic deaths in 2020 in the United States. This is a 14% jump from 2019. Blute says this advanced class is different from the sobriety training course law enforcement takes.

"Officers learn how to do a roadside test, interview, apprehend and detect impaired drivers, and then there's a drunk driving course, which is a two-day introductory course and this is a nine-day course," Blute said.

13WMAZ went to the class to see what they trainees were learning and found that volunteers are used to help with the class. The volunteers are given alcohol and the trainees analyze their behavior.

"Nobody gets too high of a level, nobody gets sick, and those kind of things. It's just we give them just enough alcohol in their system to allow for the students to be able to get some information from them," Blute said.

The DRE program was started in the early 1970s. It has since widened to become an international certification, meaning law enforcement worldwide is able to become certified.

The in-class instruction takes about 9 days to complete and then the trainees go to Jacksonville, Florida to complete the 7-day certification phase. Once complete, they will have an international certification. 

Different law enforcements across Georgia come to GPSTC to complete the training like deputies, police officers, and game wardens.

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