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Why roadside drug tests are unreliable

On Behalf of | Jun 9, 2023 | Criminal Defense

Many people who live in West Virginia are aware of roadside drug tests. The state has strict laws about driving while under the influence of alcohol, and the strictness extends to driving under the influence of drugs. However, some significant issues associated with roadside drug tests make people question their legitimacy in court.

The tests can produce false positives

One of the more concerning issues is the volume of false positives nationwide. For example, the issue was significant enough that several former inmates from a prison filed a lawsuit against the state’s DOC. Their incoming mail was tested for drugs, with several false positive results. The inaccurate results led to them being unfairly punished. Some inmates even lost their parole eligibility. In court, the guards from the prison were asked if they had received training about potential false positives. They were not informed of that risk. With tests also being used to arrest and convict people of drug charges, the issue of false positives is especially serious.

No government agency regulates the tests

Since there are no government entities that regulate the use of the drug test kits, advocacy groups are concerned about improper use. Also, the officers who conduct the tests often have little training about them.

Forensic investigations that utilize laboratory testing can reveal discrepancies when cases go to trial. However, many cases involving drug charges today do not go to trial. Most of them are settled through plea deals, which means that many people do not have the opportunity to discover inaccurate drug test results. It is important for all people to be aware of potential false positives and their rights.