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Always challenge the results of roadside drug tests

You were pulled over by the police, and because you were nervous, or for other unknown reasons, they decide to search your vehicle. They find a baggie they think contain drugs, and pull out a pouch to test it. The result comes back positive. The problem is, you did not have drugs in your car! But now you are sitting in jail on drug possession charges. What should you do?

Do not panic

You definitely do not want to panic and accept a guilty plea agreement from the prosecution before speaking to a defense attorney. You need to have those results tested and verified by a laboratory. Roadside drug tests have given false positives for a wide range of common substances, including cotton candy, chocolate chip cookies, vitamins, coffee, cold medicine, drywall dust, donut glaze, even air.

Roadside drug tests routinely give inaccurate results, but because they are cheap and give an impression of infallibility, police, prosecutors and judges usually do not challenge them. If police misunderstand how to use the kits, innocent people end up on the hook for drug convictions. This was the case in Hillsborough County back in 2014, when officers misinterpreted the directions on testing kits and interpreted the negative result as a positive one.

Many samples destroyed after accepting a plea

A federal survey conducted in 2013 showed that when the defendant pleads guilty, approximately 62% of crime labs fail to verify that the substances seized by law enforcement are indeed drugs. What this tells us is that if you find yourself in a situation like this, it is best to invoke your Fifth Amendment right to silence and ask to call a lawyer immediately.

There are countless news stories of people who have experienced false positives from these test kits and had their lives destroyed. People spend months in jail and lose their jobs, homes, even custody of their children. Some people continue to live with wrongful convictions after taking a plea agreement and can do nothing to overturn it, because the evidence was destroyed and never validated. Do not let this happen to you.

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  • American inns of court
  • norml
  • National association of criminal defense lawyers
  • Clearwater bar association
  • Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers

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