A Florida deputy sheriff recently made national news for 80 arrests. However, rather than being celebrated for good work, it was because it was determined that many of the roadside drug tests employed by the deputy were inaccurate, which led to false arrest. It is unclear at this time whether the deputy’s fault was ineptitude or faked results, but the fact is that many innocent victims ended up in jail for weeks and months because of false drug charges.
Lab analysis refutes roadside test
As it turns out, the deputy had been flagged by the sheriff’s department lab because examples of faulty evidence he submitted included laundry detergent, headache medicine and even sand from the beach. The fact that the deputy got positive results from these substances is a problem. Fortunately, the Martin County Sheriff’s Department is investigating the matter, and 11 of the deputy’s 80 arrests have already been released.
Field tests are not reliable
According to multiple reports, including one in the New York Times, the $2 roadside drug tests law enforcement uses are unreliable. According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, 21 percent of the evidence determined to be Methamphetamine was not accurate, and half were not even drugs of any kind. Experts believe that one reason for these inaccurate tests is that deputies have not been trained to properly read the test results. It has also come to light that 80 other substances can prompt a positive result for cocaine, including laundry detergent.
The key is to not panic
There is no need to panic and plea to a lesser charge just to get it over with. A criminal record involving drug charges is serious and can impact one’s ability get a job and can follow the victim through life. While crime labs can clarify matters, that may not be the case. Those facing charges are always advised to seek guidance from an experienced criminal defense attorney. These legal professionals understand the problems with these tests and understand how to spot circumstances where officers make mistakes.