NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – More New Mexico police officers are getting specialized training to deal with people on drugs behind the wheel. “All of these officers are seasoned DWI officers with experience on impaired driving investigations,” said Lt. Charles Files of the Los Lunas Police Department.

Trainees started the week with basic field sobriety tests with the help of volunteers who agreed to drink alcohol and then have their abilities tested. Ultimately, the program – funded by the state Department of Transportation – will focus on other types of impairment, like illicit drugs and prescription medications.

Trainers point out alcohol is easy to detect, and can be quickly confirmed with a breath test. However, other drugs cause a wide range of behaviors, and can be harder to pin down. “We touch on subjects like physiology and chemistry and knowing why it works the way it does, so they have a better understanding in the field of what they’re doing and why,” said Lt. Joel Holt of the Rio Rancho Police Department.

Those who complete the program will become certified drug recognition experts and may be called to assist with DWI stops. The program has been around for nearly three decades.