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Can roadside drug tests be proven unreliable?

On Behalf of | Jun 30, 2023 | Drug Crimes |

There are many potential hazards to face when driving on the roads in New Jersey. One of them may be the possible presence of drivers who are impaired by drugs or alcohol. Yet another danger may be the prospect of being pulled over and falsely accused of such a crime. This can happen if you fall prey to the false results of an unreliable drug test.

Roadside drug tests are far from infallible

No one wants to be faced with serious drug charges due to a field test that went wrong. But this is precisely what happens in all too many cases. A recent series of cases in Imperial County, California showed that these tests malfunctioned on more than one occasion. The result was a number of drug convictions that had to be struck from the record.

Most roadside drug testing kits make use of special chemicals that are designed to detect the presence of certain illegal drugs. These chemicals can be mixed with these drugs to produce the result of turning several different colors. When the expected color is revealed, the assumption is that a certain dangerous drug is present.

These kits are produced very cheaply and in mass quantities. The average cost of one of these kits is slightly less than $2. As a result, there is no real way to guarantee their quality or consistency. A recent drug test produced a positive result for heroin. However, this was due to the chemicals in the kit being mixed with chocolate.

Courts are beginning to rule against unreliable kits

Field sobriety tests have been shown to be unreliable in more than one case. A number of recent court rulings stated that the kits have not been proven to be admissible as evidence.

The result is that a great number of drug convictions have had to be thrown out. This has led to calls for a new system of drug testing that can be held to a much higher standard. Meanwhile, defendants in drug cases have a strong weapon they can use to contest their charges.