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False reading on drug test kit lands couple behind bars

Police officers in Illinois may use drug test kits during traffic stops if they suspect that they have found controlled substances in a vehicle. However, roadside drug test kits are often faulty. A couple in Arkansas was recently sent to jail after a cheap drug test kit identified baking soda as cocaine.

The couple was driving a commercial truck when they were stopped for a routine inspection. Though the military-haul team had high-level security clearances, inspectors thought that they were carrying hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of cocaine in their truck. Multiple tests with a quick-ID kit confirmed the officers' suspicions, and the couple was sent to jail.

After being in jail for two months, the Arkansas couple was finally exonerated when crime lab tests confirmed that the substance found in their truck was baking soda. The couple was unable to call family and friends during the first four weeks of their jail stay, and the public defender's office was not assigned to their case for 10 days. It took longer for a specific attorney to be assigned to the couple's case, and even longer for the substance in question to be sent to a crime lab for further testing.

A criminal defense attorney may be able to represent an individual who has been handed drug charges because of a false reading on a drug test kit. A lawyer may be able to advocate for expedited crime lab testing so that the substance in question can be correctly identified. If property belonging to the defendant was seized during the incident, an attorney might help the defendant get the property out of impound.

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