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Several law enforcement officers get trained as drug recognition experts

DENVER -- The Colorado Department of Transportation recently graduated a class of 23 drug recognition experts from its statewide training program, which trains officers how to spot the warning signs of impaired drivers.

The nine-day training included officers from police departments in Aurora, Sterling, Fort Collins, Lakewood, Gunnison and Loveland.

Several troopers from the Colorado State Patrol are among those who trained.

The training is offered through the Colorado Department of Transportation. Highway safety manager Glenn Davis said the agency wanted to give officers the most techniques possible to catch a suspected impaired driver before a crash.

He said the focus is placed on a driver's mannerisms once they have been pulled over.

"Do they have slurred speech? Do they have odor of marijuana? Are their reactions slower? Are their reactions faster?" Davis said as possible warning signs.

Davis said more emphasis has been placed on training to spot marijuana-impaired drivers because of recreational legalization in Colorado.

"It's always been important, but since the legalization of marijuana, we think it's important to keep the culture of the roadway safe as we educate more and more officers," Davis said.

"Marijuana driving has always been illegal, whether there's been legislation or not, but what we've done is train more and more officers and also get the message out to the public that if you do make that choice, the likelihood of you getting arrested is great."

With the new graduates, Davis said the state has about 250 active law enforcement officers who have completed the advanced training.