In today’s blog post, we’ll dive deep into what happens if you fail a roadside drug test – shedding light on the consequences that await those who find themselves in this unnerving situation.
From legal implications to potential damage on personal and professional fronts, we aim to equip you with vital knowledge that might help you navigate through these challenging circumstances.
How Roadside Drug Tests Work?
Roadside drug tests, also known as saliva or oral fluid tests, are used by law enforcement officers to quickly screen for the presence of drugs in a person’s system during a traffic stop. These tests are typically conducted if an officer suspects that a driver is under the influence of drugs based on their behaviour, appearance, or other indicators.
The process of administering a roadside drug test begins with the collection of a saliva sample from the driver using an absorbent pad or swab. The officer will ask the driver to open their mouth and place the pad or swab between their cheek and gum for a few minutes to collect enough saliva for testing.
Once the sample is collected, it is inserted into a handheld device called an oral fluid screening kit. This kit contains reagents that react with specific drugs present in the saliva sample. The most commonly tested substances include marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, methamphetamines, opiates, and benzodiazepines.
The device then analyzes the sample and produces results within 5-10 minutes. A positive impact indicates that one or more of these drugs were detected in the person’s system at levels above a predetermined threshold. If this happens, further confirmation testing may be required to confirm the presence of drugs in their system.
It is important to note that roadside drug tests are designed to detect recent drug use rather than past use. Therefore, they do not provide information about when exactly someone ingested drugs or how much they consumed.
Common Drugs Tested for in Roadside Drug Tests
Roadside drug tests, also known as saliva or oral fluid tests, are becoming increasingly common in many countries as a way to detect recent drug use among drivers. These tests are designed to quickly and easily determine if a person has recently used certain drugs while operating a vehicle.
In most cases, roadside drug tests will screen for the presence of commonly abused substances such as marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, methamphetamines, opiates and benzodiazepines. However, the specific drugs tested may vary depending on the location and regulations of each country or state.
- Marijuana (THC)
Marijuana is one of the most commonly detected drugs in roadside drug tests. The main psychoactive compound in marijuana is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which can impair coordination, reaction time and judgment when driving. Roadside drug tests can detect THC in saliva within hours after smoking or ingesting it.
Cocaine is another frequently tested substance in roadside drug tests due to its widespread use and potential effects on driving abilities. Cocaine acts as a stimulant that can cause increased heart rate and blood pressure, leading to decreased concentration and impaired decision-making skills.
Amphetamines are often included in roadside drug testing panels because they are powerful stimulants that can cause feelings of alertness and euphoria but also lead to dizziness, confusion and aggressive behaviour while driving.
Factors that Can Affect the Results of a Roadside Drug Test
Law enforcement officers commonly use roadside drug tests to detect the presence of drugs in a driver’s system. These tests can be conducted on-site, without the need for a laboratory analysis, and therefore provide quick results. However, several factors can affect the accuracy and reliability of these tests.
One of the main factors that can affect the results of a roadside drug test is cross-reactivity. This occurs when substances present in over-the-counter medications or prescription drugs produce a positive impact on a particular drug being tested for. For example, certain cold and allergy medications contain ingredients that may show up as amphetamines or opioids on a drug test.
- False Positives:
False positives occur when a test indicates that an individual has consumed drugs when they have not actually done so. There are various reasons why this can happen, such as faulty equipment or improper handling of samples. Some common examples of false positives include poppy seeds showing up as opiates or hemp products containing trace amounts of THC being mistaken for marijuana use.
- Sensitivity and Specificity of Tests:
The sensitivity and specificity of roadside drug tests also play a significant role in determining their accuracy. Sensitivity refers to how well the test can identify true positive cases, while specificity measures its ability to identify negative instances. If the sensitivity or specificity of a test is low, it can lead to incorrect results.
What Happens if You Fail a Roadside Drug Test?
If you are pulled over by law enforcement and suspected of driving under the influence of drugs, you may be asked to take a roadside drug test. This is a preliminary screening tool used by police officers to determine if there is probable cause to arrest someone for drug-impaired driving.
There are various methods of conducting a roadside drug test, including saliva, breath, and blood tests. These tests can detect the presence of multiple drugs in your system, such as marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, and prescription drugs like opioids.
So what happens if you fail a roadside drug test?
Firstly, it’s important to note that failing a roadside drug test does not necessarily mean you will be charged with a DUI or face any legal consequences. The results of these tests are often not admissible in court as they are considered less reliable than lab-based tests. However, depending on the circumstances and your state laws, it could lead to further testing or an arrest.
Suppose the initial roadside drug test shows positive results for illegal substances or prescription drugs without a valid prescription. In that case, the officer may ask you to take another type of test at the station. This could include blood or urine testing, which provides more accurate results and can be used as evidence in court.
In some states, refusing to take additional testing at the station after failing a roadside drug test can result in penalties similar to those for refusing a breathalyzer during an alcohol-related traffic stop. It’s essential to know your state’s laws regarding refusal of chemical testing.
Consequences and Penalties
Consequences and penalties for failing a roadside drug test can vary depending on the state or country you are in, as well as the type of drug test that was conducted. In general, there are two main types of consequences for failing a roadside drug test – administrative penalties and criminal charges.
- Administrative Penalties:
If you fail a roadside drug test, you will likely face administrative penalties, which are imposed by the the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). These penalties typically involve suspension or revocation of your driver’s license, regardless of whether you were driving under the influence at the time of testing or not.
The length of suspension varies from state to state but can range from 90 days to one year. In some cases, repeat offenders may even face permanent revocation of their driver’s license. Additionally, there may be fines associated with these administrative penalties.
It is important to note that these administrative penalties are separate from any criminal charges that may also be filed against you. This means that even if you are not convicted criminally for driving under the influence, you could still face a suspension or revocation of your driver’s license.
- Criminal Charges:
Failing a roadside drug test can also result in criminal charges being filed against you. This typically happens when there is evidence indicating that you were operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs at the time of testing.
Legal Rights and Options
If you have failed a roadside drug test, it is important to understand your legal rights and options. The consequences of a failed drug test can vary depending on the state or country where you were tested, as well as the type of drug that was detected.
However, there are certain steps you can take to protect yourself and potentially minimize any penalties.
- Know Your Rights:
First and foremost, it is important to know your legal rights when faced with a failed roadside drug test. This includes the right to remain silent and not answer any questions without legal representation, the right to refuse consent for a search of your vehicle or person, and the right to request an independent blood or urine test if available in your jurisdiction.
- Understand the Consequences:
Before taking any further action, it is essential to understand the potential consequences of failing a roadside drug test. Depending on where you live, this could include fines, license suspension or revocation, mandatory education programs or substance abuse treatment, and even jail time for repeat offences.
- Seek Legal Representation:
If you have been charged with a drug-related offence after failing a roadside drug test, it is crucial to seek legal representation from an experienced criminal defence attorney. They will be able to advise you on how best to proceed with your case and may be able to negotiate reduced charges or penalties on your behalf.
- Faulty Testing Equipment: One possible defence against a failed roadside drug test is to challenge the accuracy of the testing equipment used by law enforcement. It is not uncommon for these devices to produce false positives, especially if they have not been properly maintained or calibrated.
- Improper Administration of Test: Another potential defence is to question whether the test was administered correctly. If the officer did not follow proper procedures or did not observe you for the required amount of time before administering the test, it can weaken their case against you.
- Medical Conditions or Prescription Medications: Certain medical conditions and prescription medications can result in a positive drug test even if you have not consumed any illegal substances. For example, some painkillers can contain opioids, which may trigger a positive result on a drug test.
- Lack of Probable Cause: In order for an officer to administer a roadside drug test, they must have reasonable suspicion that they are under the influence of drugs. If they lacked probable cause or pulled you over without a valid reason, it could be grounds for challenging your failed drug test.
- Improper Storage or Handling of Sample: The sample collected for the roadside drug test must be handled and stored carefully in order to prevent contamination and ensure accurate results. If there were any mishandling or improper storage of your sample, it could call into question the validity of your failed drug test.