State v. Fincher, ___ N.C. App. ___, 814 S.E.2d 606 (Apr. 17, 2018)

In this DWI case the trial court did not abuse its discretion by admitting an officer’s expert testimony that the defendant was under the influence of a central nervous system depressant. On appeal the defendant argued that the State failed to lay a sufficient foundation under Rule 702 to establish the reliability of the Drug Recognition Examination to determine that alprazolam was the substance that impaired the defendant’s mental or physical faculties. The defendant also argued that the officer’s testimony did not show that the 12-step DRE protocol was a reliable method of determining impairment. The court rejected these arguments, noting that pursuant to Rule 702(a1)(2), the General Assembly has indicated its desire that Drug Recognition Evidence, like that given in the present case, be admitted and that this type of evidence already has been determined to be reliable and based on sufficient facts and data. Accordingly, the trial court properly admitted the testimony.