Safariland, a company that produces roadside drug test kits, and the city of Orlando have been named in a lawsuit brought forward by a man arrested on inaccurate charges of crystal methamphetamine possession. The substance taken from his vehicle and tested during the traffic stop proved to be sugar glaze pieces from Krispy Kreme donuts. The roadside kit, however, twice gave a false positive for methamphetamine on the sample.
Investigations by news outlets have identified serious suspicions about the unreliability of roadside drug tests used by law enforcement. One report concluded that thousands of wrongful convictions could be happening every year from evidence based on false positives.
The Orlando Police Department jailed the plaintiff in the lawsuit for 10 hours before he obtained his release on a $2,500 bond. According to court filings, he is seeking $15,000 in damages because of the errors made when an officer pulled over his vehicle in December 2015. In statements to the Orlando Sentinel, he explained that he told the officer that the substance was sugar from donuts. Authorities did not drop his charges until weeks later when a state lab tested the sample and confirmed that it was not a controlled substance.
When authorities file drug charges, an attorney for the defendant may have a few strategies that can be employed before or at trial. When the drugs were found during a vehicle search, for example, the attorney could challenge the traffic stop itself as being made without the requisite reasonable suspicion. If successful, this could perhaps lead to the evidence being excluded.
Source: The Huffington Post, “Man Jailed In Doughnut Glaze-Meth Mix-Up Sues City, Drug Test Company“, Steven Hoffer, Oct. 25, 2016