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Law Office of Robert L. Firth May 29, 2015

A new method of detecting cocaine use in individuals may soon be available to Texas authorities involved in the testing and monitoring of suspected drug users. This new kind of drug test is purported to be able to detect cocaine use by identifying the residual presence of certain chemical byproducts in a person’s fingerprint.

According to information published by the developers of the method, the drug test attempts to detect trace amounts of certain substances produced and excreted by the body as it metabolizes cocaine. Specifically, the chemical signatures of benzoylecgonine and methylecgonine are identified by analyzing the residue left behind in a person’s fingerprint using mass spectrometry. The researchers claim that the presence of these cocaine metabolites in an individual’s fingerprint indicates that the individual has actually used or ingested cocaine, as opposed to merely handling or coming into physical contact with it.

The team of Dutch and British researchers that developed the technique believe that it represents a reliable alternative to more invasive and less sanitary drug testing methods currently in use that involve testing blood, saliva or urine. The lead researcher also claims the new technique could simplify drug testing by allowing law enforcement to perform both quick and accurate drug tests in the field. The team believes this new testing method would also thwart attempts to avoid detection by combining an individual’s identity and sample in a single package.

In the state of Texas, even relatively minor drug charges, such as possession of drug paraphernalia, often involve serious consequences. However, in certain drug cases, a defense attorney may be able to have the prosecutor approve a drug diversion program as an alternative to fines or incarceration. These programs typically involve regular drug testing and substance abuse counseling aimed at preventing further drug use in the future.