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Two dollar narcotics test kit is unreliable in traffic stops

Inspections are a routine part of the job as a CDL truck driver. Even if you know your truck is in good working order, you may still worry about what an individual inspector will scrutinize in separate instances. Now, imagine that a law enforcement officer is inspecting the cab of your truck and mistakes an everyday household cleaning product or food item for narcotics.

This nightmare scenario happened to a pair of truck drivers in Fort Chaffee, Arkansas as they were inspected before entering the Army National Guard base. The female truck driver, who had a plastic baggie of baking soda in her cab, was arrested for possession of a controlled substance after law enforcement officers used a narcotics field test kid that showed a false positive.

The kit, which is used by departments around the country, is reportedly available to law enforcement agencies at the cost of two dollars per kit. The arrested female and her male co-driver spent two months in an Arkansas county jail before a lab test showed the suspected controlled substance was only baking soda. However, the repercussions did not end for the innocent couple. Their truck was damaged in a state impound lot, and the two are still awaiting re-certification for licenses and security clearances to drive again.

One in five tests for controlled substances by the NIK field presumptive test kit used by Arkansas officers were proven to be false positives by a crime lab. Substances that tested as a false positive included baking soda, Comet cleaner and tortilla flour. Mistakes by law enforcement, as shown by this case in Arkansas, can be costly to both income and career for truck drivers. 

What can be done to prevent a false-positive test?

Unfortunately for drivers, the onus is on law enforcement to change their field test kit. However, a driver can help build his or her case against a false-positive test by keeping all items sealed and in their original containers.

If you are arrested because of a false positive narcotics test, you deserve to be represented by an attorney who understands your frustration. The stigma associated with an arrest can be enough to change a career; but with the right legal help, you can find a way to rightfully return to your livelihood on the road.

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