California drivers should be aware of the potential for baking soda to be identified as cocaine during routine traffic stops. Open containers of baking soda could not only be mistaken for illegal drugs, but they may also test positive during chemical tests. Police officers often use cheap narcotics identification kits to test substances they find in vehicles. In some cases, these tests can yield false positive results.
In Arkansas, quick-ID kits tested positive for cocaine in a roadside investigation of a military-haul team. When the team attempted to enter Fort Chaffee, they were stopped at the gate, and bags of white powder in the vehicle were suspected of being cocaine. In reality, the team was carrying bulk quantities of baking soda. One of the drivers who was stopped was a former police officer.
In the Arkansas case, the baking soda tested positive for cocaine not once but several times. Later crime lab tests showed that the substance was, in fact, baking soda, but the truckers were jailed for two months. They also lost their truck after it was impounded, resulting in a significant financial setback. In other cases of false identification around the country, cheap ID tests have resulted in false positives for amphetamines and meth as well as cocaine.
A criminal law attorney may be able to help someone accused of distribution or other drug offenses develop a solid defense. If it is a first-time offense, an attorney may also be able to argue for a reduced penalty or dropped charges. It may also be possible to build a defense on the grounds of false positive test results or a test that was improperly administered.