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How accurate are the roadside drug tests police officers use?

On Behalf of | Jun 2, 2023 | Drug Charges

Chemical evidence has become the gold standard in many criminal cases. The ability to detect certain chemicals and their metabolites in the human body has certainly helped officers to establish a connection between specific people and certain illegal or controlled substances in many cases.

People often assume that when the police have chemical test results showing that someone was under the influence or had drugs near them at the time of their arrest that their conviction is essentially inevitable. Even people who believe that they did not break the law sometimes plead guilty because they think that the state has irrefutable evidence.

However, those who have been accused of an impaired driving or drug possession offense can potentially seek legal guidance and, ultimately, construct a defense that appropriately addresses the chemical evidence gathered as part of the state’s case. Roadside drug tests can sometimes come back with surprising results.

The possibility of an error is unignorable

Roadside drug tests are notoriously unreliable and inaccurate. In fact, some judges have refused to indict alleged drug offenses or thrown out charges despite what seemed like conclusive evidence because there were real concerns about the accuracy of the test results.

Many roadside drug test kits only cost a few dollars, which likely means that the standards used in their production are not particularly high. They may include multiple chemical tests in a very small package, leading to a risk of contamination and outright test failure. False positives are very common with roadside test kits, and many people may have pleaded guilty to charges they couldn’t even make sense of because they felt like they had no way to defend themselves.

Questioning test results can be a complicated defense strategy

Individuals hoping to raise questions about the accuracy of the chemical test results during a criminal trial may require expert witnesses to analyze the test and explain how it failed to the courts. Typically, such complex defense strategies require the assistance of an attorney.

Seeking legal guidance and fighting the seemingly suspect results of a roadside drug test could help someone avoid a criminal conviction when they have not broken the law.