ARIDE: A Training Option Bridging the GAP Between SFST and DRE

The Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement (ARIDE) program was developed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) with input from the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) Technical Advisory Panel (TAP) and the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police. ARIDE was created to address the gap in training between the Standardized Field Sobriety Testing (SFST) and the Drug Evaluation and Classification (DEC) Program.

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 (DRE) through the DEC Program conducts a drug evaluation in a more controlled environment such as a detention facility.

ARIDE is intended to bridge the gap between these two programs by providing officers with general knowledge related to drug impairment and by promoting the use of DREs in states that have the DEC Program. 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. The training will be conducted under the control and approval of the DEC Program state coordinator. NHTSA and IACP highly recommend that principal instructors for this course be state-qualified and IACP-credentialed DRE instructors; that is, they (1) hold currently valid certificates as DREs; (2) have completed the NHTSA/IACP DRE Instructor Training Course; and (3) have completed the required delivery of both classroom and certification training, under the supervision of credentialed DRE instructors. At minimum, a qualified DRE with instructor credentials in other fields of occupational competency (not necessarily a DRE instructor) can be utilized to present ARIDE materials if instructor resources are limited and cannot be resolved at the state coordinator’s level without undue hardship.

A qualified SFST instructor could instruct segments one through three leading to the preparation and evaluation of participants during the SFST proficiency examination. In addition to their occupational competencies, all instructors must be qualified trainers. They need to understand, and be able to apply, fundamental principles of instruction. Perhaps most importantly, they need to be competent coaches. Much of the classroom training is devoted to hands-on practice. The quality of coaching will have a major impact on the success of those practice sessions. It is highly recommended that every instructor be a graduate of the NHTSA/IACP DRE Instructor Training Course.

Some agencies may wish to enlist instructors with special credentials for certain blocks of instruction. For example, a physician would be well qualified to assist or teach session IV, and a prosecutor might be a good choice for session VIII.

The training also promotes interaction with representatives from the state’s prosecution community. Part of the course is intended to be taught by a local prosecutor or the state’s traffic safety resource prosecutor (TSRP).

The ARIDE program was successfully piloted in Connecticut, Kentucky, Washington and West Virginia. These states were selected based on NHTSA’s desire to have representation in the pilot study from states with, and without, the DEC program. Seven pilot courses trained 205 law enforcement officers, prosecutors and toxicologists. Law enforcement represented 186 (90%)