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Convictions using roadside drug tests frequently overturned

On Behalf of | May 8, 2023 | Criminal Defense

If you were charged with driving under the influence or drug possession in Texas after law enforcement administered a roadside drug test, your case might have the potential to be thrown out of court. No government agency regulates these tests, many of which are found to have serious flaws, while officers using the tests to make arrests have little or no training.

Over 100 convictions using the tests overturned

Nearly all drug charges resulting in convictions come from plea deals from indictments where the roadside tests provided the primary measure of guilt. According to the National Registry of Exonerations, courts in the last decade have overturned 131 convictions where roadside drug tests were used. Most came from Harris County, Texas, where its crime lab analyzed suspected drugs from closed cases and found no drugs present. Defendants in these cases pleaded guilty at preliminary hearings.

Cheap tests trigger reactions to common substances

The cheap tests contain small vials of chemicals that, when mixed with drugs like methamphetamine, cocaine or heroin will supposedly produce specific colors. However, everyday household items, like various foods and cleaners, trigger similar reactions. For example, court records show chocolate often turns the liquid a similar shade of green as heroin. Safariland Group, the nation’s largest field test manufacturer, has admitted that more than 50 legal substances can create a false positive.

Challenging drug test results

The documented inaccuracies of these roadside tests provide compelling grounds for challenging any drug charges using roadside tests. Those who have already been convicted through one of these tests should consider filing an appeal and having their samples retested to prove their innocence.

Inaccurate testing methods represent one of the most common reasons for the courts to throw out drug charges. Unlawful search and seizure tactics by arresting officers can also play a part in a successful defense. If your conviction is thrown out, you may also be able to have the incident expunged from your record. Having a clean record again can help restore some normalcy and eliminate the difficulties that follow a drug conviction.