Are Drug Field Tests Unreliable?

All over the United States, including in Nebraska, drug possession arrests and convictions all relate back to drug field tests. However, an experienced drug attorney understands that there is a possibility that the test kits used for field testing are not quite as reliable as we have been led to believe. In fact, they are so unreliable that they may not even be able to form the basis of a criminal case. There have been many studies into these field tests and the results have found that the tests can yield false results and lead to wrongful convictions. Prosecutors need to use crime laboratories to confirm evidence from those field kits if they want to use the results in court.

Many of these tests were developed in Texas, so this information is slightly more well-known there. In fact, there was one test that found that over 300 drug possession cases were wrongfully charged over a ten year period. Still, the police departments and some justice departments continue to rely on these erroneous tests.

The problem is that these tests use “presumptive testing” which means that they only signal when an illegal substance may be present. As a result, there are many instances when they give false positives. Simply, they are less scientific than other testing forms. They use something called a colormetric, meaning that the chemicals within the testing kit change colors when they are mixed with something else that has a specific type of drug. The problem is that there are only so many colors that the human eye can choose between and the difference between a positive reaction and a negative one can be just a few shades.

Why Do We Still Use Drug Field Tests?

We still use drug field tests in drug cases for a few different reasons. The first is that they are quite simple to use and often, police will use them when they are already convinced of what they think they are seeing – leading to many false positives. They are also quite cheap to use.

In Nebraska, drug field tests are used to test for heroin, cocaine, MDMA, methamphetamine, and marijuana. Since police officers know what these drugs tend to look like, where they are hidden in cars, and what drug paraphernalia looks like, they are likely to use the tests to confirm what they already suspect.

There are so many different types of drug cases that pass through the Nebraska criminal courts that it would be impossible to believe that there are not many who are wrongfully convicted using these tests. However, that is also why there is a need for low priced, easy to use tests that can be completed in a few minutes without the need for laboratory testing. The question remains: is saving money worth it to prevent wrongful convictions?

If you have been wrongfully accused of drug possession, the answer should be obvious to you. Still, even those that haven’t been charged are starting to see that there are problems with their use. In some states, formal investigations into drug field tests and their use in the justice system are being launched.

Do You Need An Omaha, NE Drug Attorney?

If you feel that you have been wrongly charged or convicted of a drug possession crime based on evidence from a faulty field test kit, you need to have the help of an experienced Omaha, NE drug lawyer. There is no time like the present to get started so that an experienced attorney can help to build your case. This can take some time to do, so it is important that you start working with someone qualified at the earliest possible time.

Contact drug defense attorney Daniel Stockmann today for more information about how you can protect yourself and stand up for your rights, even if a drug field test shows that you did have a drug. No matter what the situation is, you deserve experienced and dedicated representation. Call Stockmann Law at 844-906-0641.