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Cheap drug ID kits often produce false positives

When law enforcement officers in Texas reach for a drug-testing kit during a traffic stop, the results may end up being false. Incidents of truckers and motorists being charged with drug possession when they really had baking soda, candy or tortilla flour have emerged across the nation.

Some of the tests police use to analyze substances for the presence of narcotics allegedly cost as little as $2 each. The case of two Arkansas truckers found with baking soda in their vehicle illustrates the lack of reliability of some roadside tests. Law enforcement suspected they were in possession of cocaine, and testing kits produced multiple false positives from samples of baking soda.

Authorities jailed the truckers for two months and impounded their vehicle. Subsequent laboratory testing exonerated the two of the cocaine charges, and authorities released them. More months passed before they regained possession of their truck.

When law enforcement agents arrest someone for drug charges, the person has the right to obtain legal representation. Legal advice could help defendants better understand their Constitutional rights and make informed decisions before answering questions from the authorities. An attorney could provide guidance about how to enter a plea and navigate the criminal justice system. Counsel could examine the evidence cited against the person, and the legitimacy of the traffic stop might be questioned. An attorney could also investigate whether the officers had any cause to conduct a search or if permission was given. The results of drug tests could be challenged as well. If evidence can be disqualified from a case, then the attorney might request that the prosecutor drop the charges.

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