How does a routine traffic stop turn into a nightmare scenario for an ordinary citizen? All it takes is for an overeager officer to glance around a vehicle and spot…some kitty litter?
Unfortunately, that’s absolutely what happened to one unfortunate Texas resident. The driver had put kitty litter in a sock as a quick-fix for the problem he was having with excessive moisture and fog on his windshield. The officer didn’t believe his story and two field test for drugs — which are notoriously unreliable — identified the kitty litter as meth. The unfortunate Texan was sent jail on a $100,000 bond for possessing about a half a pound of kitty litter. Unable to afford his bail, he sat there for about a month until a lab properly identified the substance for what it really was.
He’s not the first driver — and definitely won’t be the last — to end up facing drug trafficking charges after a common substance gets confused for drugs. A husband-and-wife trucking team lost their jobs and spent an entire summer in jail after police mistakenly identified baking soda in their truck as cocaine. Again, the roadside drug test the police used on the baking soda misidentified it.
Not all cases of mistaken identification can be attributed to faulty tests, however. One officer cited her 11 years of experience and training as the authority behind her arrest of a 65-year-old Florida man for having crack — or maybe meth — on the floor of his car. It was actually flakes of sugar off a glazed donut, but that didn’t stop the man from going to jail for a bit.
The misidentification of ordinary substances for powerful drugs doesn’t stop there. A Brooklyn man was detained for having Jolly Rancher candy in his possession. Georgia police raided a retiree’s crop of okra in the belief it was a marijuana field. Texas police apparently can’t always tell tomato plants from marijuana plants.
The list goes on. It might be comic — except many people have their entire lives upended as the result of mistakes like these. One thing is for certain: Even if you’re innocent, get an experienced attorney’s assistance if you’re charged with drug trafficking.