Florida police officers sometimes use roadside drug tests to screen drivers suspected of drug use. However, there’s concern that flaws in roadside drug tests contribute to unwarranted arrests and convictions. Organizations such as the Roadside Drug Test Innocence Alliance are working to bring awareness to problems possible with roadside drug tests.
A driver who fails a roadside drug test can possibly face drug charges. But a test can return a positive result even if the driver has no illegal drugs in their system. This is known as a false positive. Different substances can trigger a positive reading even if the drugs are legal, such as prescription or over-the-counter medicines.
A driver’s coordination or reaction time can affect their response during a roadside drug test. Drug use can cause people to act a certain way, but behavior associated with drug use isn’t always because of drugs. A roadside drug test might indicate that a driver is high based on their behavior when in fact, the driver is afraid, nervous, sick or tired.
Some argue that roadside drug tests are too unreliable to play a role in arrest or prosecution. Twelve states now require drivers to have a urine or blood test before they can get arrested for driving under the influence of drugs. Some states with this requirement include Arizona, California, Delaware, Illinois and New Jersey.
You have the right to refuse a roadside drug test. The officer can still arrest you, but not without probable cause. If you do agree to take the test, a positive result could lead to your arrest – even if the result is a false positive.
A drug charge is an offense that can have long-lasting negative consequences. If you fail a roadside drug test, but you’re not under the influence of drugs, realize it can result in unfair arrest and prosecution.