Field Drug Test Kits 'Unreliable'

As more police across the country have been using inexpensive field drug test kits to test for substances found on suspects, officials and defense attorneys alike are realizing that these kits are proving to be highly unreliable. More than that, they’re putting innocent people behind bars for completely harmless substances.

Case in point: In 2015, a Minnesota man was locked up for over 60 days because a police field drug test kit determined that a bag of vitamins in his car had traces of amphetamines.

Here in Florida, in 2009 a man was pulled over because he was driving with expired tags. He spent three months behind bars, and he lost his job and his apartment.

As far as his car, the police auctioned that off while he was in the slammer. This all happened to the poor fellow after an officer claimed that the mints he was chewing tested positive for cocaine.

In both of the above cases, the men were exonerated after the substances were tested in more sophisticated state crime labs.

In 2009, a study for the Marijuana Policy Project, “False Positives Equal False Justice” shed light on the fact that many harmless substances are being mistaken for illegal drugs by police field drug tests, including:

  • Candies
  • Plants
  • Spices
  • Over-the-counter medicines

Adam Eidinger of Mintwood Media revealed the study’s findings at a press conference. At that press conference Eidinger said that of the 43 substances tested, 70 percent of the time they came back with a false positive. “This is just outrageous,” Eidinger said.

“It’s not just the marijuana test. It’s every single test [that] will provide false positives.”

In 2015, Fox 13/TV in Tampa Bay conducted a similar investigation, arriving at the same conclusion. Reporter Gloria Gomez said that they saw coffee, cough medicine, spices and aspirin all test positive for illegal drugs, even air!

Some of the most common substances that tested positive for illegal drugs were: Tylenol PM, deodorant and powdered sugar, which tested positive for cocaine; loose-leaf tea, chocolate, and oregano all tested positive for pot; soap tested positive for GHB; and Jolly Ranchers came back positive for crystal meth.

Field drug tests may seem cheap and convenient for the police, but they’re expensive when they put innocent people behind bars who have to come up with bail and legal fees. They also have to sit in jail for months as they risk losing their jobs and their reputations

The benefits don’t outweigh the costs considering the lawsuits the state faces for false arrests based on faulty evidence provided by the police. Law enforcement nationwide should stop using them to prevent more innocent people from getting caught in the criminal justice system for harmless substances.

Arrested on drug charges in Tampa? Contact Thomas & Paulk, P.A. for a free consultation!