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How valid are roadside drug tests?

On Behalf of | Jul 14, 2023 | Criminal Defense, Drug Charges |

Iowa police are permitted to roadside drug tests to gather evidence that a person possesses illicit drugs. But an increasing body of evidence shows that roadside drug tests are questionable at best.

Despite such evidence, police continue to use these drug tests as a tool to attempt to secure convictions on drug charges. Because of this, it’s important to understand the limitations of these tests should you need to defend yourself in court.

The reliability of roadside drug tests

The typical roadside drug test is inexpensive and unsophisticated. It consists of a pouch containing chemicals that are designed to turn certain colors if they encounter illegal drugs like heroin, cocaine or methamphetamine.

But the problem is that many other items, including everyday-usage items like foods or cleaners, can trigger false positives. The only way to ensure a reliable drug test is to have testing done in a laboratory setting.

Another problem with roadside drug tests is the training police or other law enforcement officers receive before using them in the field. Officers are frequently given extremely basic training on the tests, knowing little more than what a certain color’s results are intended to signify. This can lead to the tests being administered improperly, further degrading their accuracy.

Roadside drug tests aren’t reliable evidence

In many cases, roadside drug test evidence pushes defendants toward guilty plea bargains for drug possession. This means the results of those drug tests and their validity are not challenged in these cases.

Over the past decade, numerous courts have ruled against the evidence of a roadside drug test. The science is clear – Roadside drug tests are of highly questionable value, if any at all.

Knowing how to defend yourself if you are tested with a roadside drug test is paramount. You will be less likely to be convicted unfairly.



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