Fresno DUI Attorney: Problems with Roadside Drug Test Kits Demonstrated

Jan 11, 2017

Like driving under the influence of alcohol, driving under the influence of drugs in California is also prohibited. Driving while under the influence of drugs presents some unique issues for law enforcement, however. A body of research and evidence-based tests have been established for alcohol testing, but most illegal substances do not affect people in the same predictable manner that alcohol does. A tangential issue is that law enforcement officers are increasingly relying on cheap roadside drug test kits in order to make a preliminary determination of whether or not a suspicious substance is an illegal drug. Two recent cases have shown that these tests are unreliable and can lead to unwarranted arrests and prosecutions.
Truck drivers in Arkansas: Baking soda is not cocaine
In a recent case in Arkansas, a truck-driving team who was hauling a load onto the Fort Chaffee military base was stopped for a routine gate inspection. Law enforcement officers recovered a suspicious white powdery substance contained in bags inside of the truck. The female driver insisted that the substance was baking soda, and she told the officers that she routinely carried it because of its usefulness. The officers used a roadside drug test kit and received multiple positive results for cocaine. The truck drivers spent two months in jail and lost their jobs before lab testing revealed that the roadside test was inaccurate. The substance was baking soda, just as the woman insisted.
Doughnut glaze vs. methamphetamine: Florida
In another case in Florida, a man was stopped for a simple traffic violation. The officer who pulled him over asked for permission to search his car, and he consented. The officer found a substance that she found to be suspicious on the floor of the man's vehicle. He told her it was glaze from a doughnut that he had eaten in the car. The officer used a roadside drug test kit to test the substance, and it returned multiple positives for methamphetamine. The man was arrested and spent hours in jail before being released on bond. Later, lab testing revealed that the substance was doughnut glaze, just as the man suggested.
Problems with roadside drug test kits
An increasing number of law enforcement agencies are relying on cheap roadside drug test kits in order to develop probable cause for making arrests for suspected driving under the influence of drugs cases. The tests are highly unreliable, and people across the country are being charged with crimes that they did not commit as a result. If you have been charged with driving under the influence of drugs following a search of your vehicle and a subsequent roadside drug test, you may need legal help. Contact the Mitchell Law Group for a consultation today.

Category: DUI Defense

Michael Mitchell


Michael Mitchell is a Fresno attorney who practices in the areas of DUI, personal injury & criminal law. Visit his Google+ profile.