Inaccurate Drug Test Lands Utah Couple In Jail For Months
A Utah couple found themselves behind bars for months after a drug test during a traffic stop inaccurately tested positive for cocaine.
Wendell Harvey and his wife Gale Griffin have been truck drivers for years. The couple transport explosives for the military, which meant they had top security clearances.
Back in May, the couple were driving through Arkansas when they were pulled over by police. Harvey, who is also a former police officer, said he wasn't worried when police searched the semi truck. The officer pulled out three bags with a white substance inside of them. Harvey and Griffin told the officer that the substance was baking soda that the couple carries in the truck. The substance was tested by the Fort Chaffen police three times and they told the couple that it came out positive all three times for cocaine. The officer told the couple the substance found by police was worth $3,000.
Griffin told KUTV,
“I told him, 'I've never had two nickels to rub together, are you crazy?'" Griffin said. "Then [the police officer] said, 'I’ve never had two nickels to rub together either, but now I’m the owner of your truck.”
Police then confiscated the couple's truck and they were taken to jail. Unable to make bail, the couple sat in the jail for over two months. The substance was tested again by the state at the insistence of the Arkansas Public Defender's Office.
It came back negative for cocaine.
The field tests used by most law enforcement agencies is the Scott Reagant Field test, only costs about $2 and can be wrong about a third of the time. Authorities in Las Vegas reexamined field tests from 2010 to 2013 and found that 33% of the tests gave false positives.
As for Wendell Harvey and Gale Griffin, they just recently got their truck back but say the vehicle needs extensive repairs. They also haven't been able to since getting out of jail and are waiting to see if they can get their security clearances reinstated. The couple says they are running out of money right now and wonder how many innocent people have been victim to these inaccurate drug tests.