DENVER (KDVR) — The Colorado Department of Transportation has launched a new initiative to train law enforcement to better recognize impaired drivers.

The Highway Safety Office at CDOT saw a 44% increase in deadly crashes due to impaired driving since 2019. With the Drug Recognition Expert training program, law enforcement officers will take a nine-day intensive training to give them knowledge and skills to identify impaired drivers.

“The officers who are participating in this training are to be commended for their commitment to traffic safety and making our roads safer from impaired drivers,” Darrell Lingk, director of the CDOT Highway Safety Office said.

The training runs from April 4-14 in Castle Rock and includes some interesting techniques. On Monday, a group of volunteers drank to the point of impairment, all for the cause. The officers in the program then got to practice roadside sobriety checkpoints, with those drunk volunteers.

“The real investigation starts with the personal contact,” Glenn Davis, the highway safety manager for CDOT said.

He said officers also learn about common drugs that drivers in Colorado are using.

“We tell the officers what the different manifestations are of different drug categories and combinations and talk to the officers too about if they do make an arrest, that there’s some different roadsides they can do. And there’s also some things they can do physically – pulse, blood pressure and the size of the pupils,” Davis said.