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Attorney Christopher T. Adams

Trusted Attorney Providing Knowledgeable And Dedicated Representation

Could one of these common items lead to drug charges?

Getting pulled over for a traffic stop is never a good time – but it can quickly turn disastrous if a police officer starts looking around your vehicle and decides that they spot evidence that you’re in possession of drugs. 

While Georgia officers carry roadside drug testing kits, these kits are only supposed to provide preliminary evidence that a substance is a known narcotic and illegal. That’s enough for probable cause for an arrest, but not enough for a conviction – because the tests are notoriously inaccurate.

How bad are the roadside drug tests used by the police?

A 2018 investigation indicates that those cheap $2 roadside tests have a 3.7% failure rate, making it “one of the largest, if not the largest known contributing factor to wrongful arrests and convictions in the United States.” 

Hapless defendants who can’t make bail may sit in jail for months waiting for lab tests that will show they’re innocent – and those who can make bail still have to struggle with the damage to their reputation and the fact that the issue is hanging over their heads for months without a resolution.

Consider this: One Georgia woman was jailed for three months on a $1 million cash bond because an officer was convinced that the blue cotton candy she’d picked up at a fair was actually meth – and the roadside drug test agreed. 

Her case isn’t isolated. The police have mistaken vitamins for illegal prescription pills and breath mints for MDMA, powdered sugar from a doughnut run as cocaine and jolly ranchers for meth. They’ve also misidentified tomato plants, sunflowers and okra plants as marijuana. 

The problem with roadside drug test kits is just one more reason drivers need to remember to give officers little chance to snoop around inside their vehicles – and should never consent to a voluntary search of their car, even when they know they have nothing to hide.


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