FAIRFIELD — Officer Scott Sudora, 51, was a standout on the football field for the University of Connecticut. Now, the veteran of more than 27 years with the Fairfield Police Department is tackling a new problem.

Sudora, a member of the department’s traffic unit, is the force’s only certified drug recognition expert (DRE), and one of only about 40 in the state.

Law enforcement officials said it is becoming an important tool in the fight against driving while under the influence of drugs. The problem was in the spotlight recently with the arrest of golf superstar Tiger Woods, who, while impaired, had not been drinking.

Since completing his training a few weeks ago, Sudora has had the opportunity to put his skills to work in two arrests for suspected driving under the influence of drugs.

Q: What does a drug recognition expert do?

A: This is pretty much post-arrest. When someone is arrested for driving impaired or under the influence, but they have a low alcohol content, we’ll be called in to do an assessment.

It’s physiological testing, from checking their eyes to taking their pulse and blood pressure. I’ll do divided attention tests and observe their actions. You also look at their arms, for injection sites and muscle tone.

It takes about 45 minutes to go through it.

Q: How were you chosen to be Fairfield’s DRE? Would you recommend this for fellow officers?

A: I didn’t express an interest, but I do a lot of DUI arrests. The department thought I would be a good fit.

I would recommend it, but it’s got to be the right person. You’ve got to be willing to stick with it. It’s a long-term thing. I have to keep doing it to keep my skills sharp.

Q: How do you become a DRE?

A: They send you to training for two weeks in Meriden. If you pass the final there, you go to Phoenix, Ariz. to the Maricopa County jail. You do field level tests there of prisoners. If you pass that, you have a comprehensive final that you have to pass.

Q: How hard is it to pass the certification testing?

A: I knew it was going to be hard, but I didn’t think it was going to be that hard. I had to study every night to keep up.