Court Ordered Drug Testing: What Kind Of Drug Tests Do Courts Use?

Court Ordered Drug Testing: What Kind Of Drug Tests Do Courts Use?


Courts may use urine drug test and hair follicle test to identify consumption of illegal drugs. They may test for major illicit drugs like THC, Natural opiates, COC, and AMP, and hence, most courts order a five-panel drug test.

Courts may order a drug test if they suspect the incident might have happened because of drug influence. Be it DUI, child custody cases, or probation, court-ordered drug testing plays a crucial role in the verdict. 

You know what? Court-ordered drug tests are not the same across all the American states. It may vary depending on the state’s or county’s regulations. It also depends upon the severity of the crime conducted and the level of infringement that one gets involved in.

This blog will help you know more about court-ordered drug test, the kind of drug test they do, the biological specimens used, and the type of child custody drug test.

Table of Contents:

Do You Get Drug Tested At Court?

Yes. Courts may order a drug test before the verdict. But it differs based on certain factors. For instance, the court may order a drug test for probation, but not for divorce unless the divorce case involves drug abuse. 

Here are some common reasons why courts drug test.


First and foremost, if you are in prison and you are getting out on a parole, the parole officer must check whether you are drug-free before letting you off. Failing a probation drug test will not help you get a parole.

DUI (Driving Under the Influence)

If you are a convict of a DUI case, you need to submit your drug test or alcohol test results in court.

Child Custody

The court will order a drug test and/or an alcohol test if you are a parent or a guardian and involved in a child custody case.

This is one of the crucial tests as it involves the future of the child. Hence, the child custody drug test will be more stringent and vigilant compared to others notified above.

Divorce Cases

Another form of court-ordered drug test is in divorce cases where one partner accuses the other for drugs and/or alcohol misuse.

The drug test involved is not intense; however, if domestic violence is reported from mental disturbances, then the drug tests would have more chances of getting extensive.

Biological Specimens Used For Court-Ordered Drug Testing

When it comes to specimens, the court ordered drug test may involve the following specimen-based drug test.


A court-ordered drug testing can also vary according to the given situation. Urine drug test is most commonly used since it can screen for many drugs and is non-invasive. Urine drug test can detect drug abuse for a few days to weeks, and hence it is efficient to track recent to long-term use.


Mouth swab drug test is also used where oral fluids or saliva specimen is collected to screen for drugs. The specimen cannot be tampered with since it is collected under direct supervision and is also non-invasive. The court may order for a lab-based saliva drug test to detect the presence of illicit drugs.


Courts may go for a hair follicle drug test to detect the usage of drugs up to a period of 90 days or even more.

Hair follicles are collected from the crown region of the head and tested for drugs. If you are fully shaved, the tester may go for arm or leg hair to test for drugs. So, it is hard to cheat the hair follicle drug test.

Most of the time, courts prefer taking both urine and hair samples to get a clear picture of the individual’s drug use history. Your attorney or any legal contact can assist you with what kind of drug test you need to take as per the court order. 

Drugs Detected During The Court Ordered Drug Testing

Courts usually follow the standard drug testing panels. The most common drugs screened are THC, COC, PCP, OPI, and AMP. The basic 5-panel drug test is used frequently by the Courts, Government institutions and entities, including Department of Transportation (DOT).

You may ask - What kind of drug test do courts use if it is not 5 panel?

Courts may use an extended panel such as 7-panel drug test which includes further two drugs - BAR and BZO and 10-panel drug test which includes PPX, MTD and Quaaludes are also employed.

Based on the severity of the situation and the offense, courts can include other drugs to be specifically tested since the drug testing panel can be customized according to their requirements.

Drug Testing Frequency

Drug testing frequency for a court-ordered drug test varies from one case to another. Most times, it is up to the judge taking into account - individual circumstances, severity of the offence, and other conditions outlined in the court order.

For instance, the court may require a drug test once a week or once a month for those who have applied for parole.

For individuals involved in alternate sentencing programs or drug rehabs, the drug tests are more frequent - like - several times a week.

How to Get A court Ordered Drug Test?

If you find yourself in a situation where a court-ordered drug test is necessary, the first and foremost step you should take is to consult with an attorney who can guide you through the process.

Typically, this involves a series of steps that includes Motion filing with the court and outlining the specific reason for the drug test (especially in cases involving child custody, visitation rights, or criminal matters).

The court will review the request. If approved, the court will issue an order specifying the type of test and the testing facility. It is crucial to adhere to the court's instructions and book your drug test promptly.

Once completed, the results will be reported directly to the court. It is not always the same. The procedures may vary based on your location. So, it is essential to consult with a legal professional to your specific jurisdiction's requirements effectively.

Child Custody-Based Drug Testing

Here are the steps that the Courts will most probably take while dealing with Child Custody cases

1. If a spouse alleges or reports to the judge about another’s drug usage or drug abuse, the court initially checks the health of the child, and its physical conditions and makes sure that the child is doing well.

2. Later, the court will order a drug test for the alleged spouse.

3. Some courts may allow the parents to express their opinion on drug test while some courts prioritize child welfare over parental preferences.  

4. Get a consultation from your attorney before raising objections against drug testing.

What type of drug test is used in custody cases?

The courts may prefer a urine drug test or hair follicle drug test for the parent/ guardian to identify drug abuse. However, the type of drug test may vary based on the type of the case based on the court's orders based on specific requirements outlining the judicial proceedings. If found guilty, the parent/guardian will lose custody of the child. 

DUI or DWI Based Court-Ordered Drug Test

You may wonder - do they drug test at court for DUI? 

The answer is "YES". According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the accidents due to drugs created nearly 37 Billion Dollars worth of damages to the state property. Hence, the courts have considered drug testing in cases that deal with accidents and other associated cases.

In many jurisdictions, especially in the United States, a person arrested or suspected of driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI) will most commonly be tested for alcohol, typically through a blood test, or urine test. This is because alcohol is the most common intoxicating substance associated with impaired driving.

However, as drug use has become more prevalent and the dangers of drug-impaired driving have become more widely recognized, many jurisdictions also test for drugs.

This can include illegal drugs like marijuana (in places where it's not yet legal), cocaine, and methamphetamine, as well as legal medications that can impair driving, such as certain prescription painkillers, sedatives, or antihistamines.

Court Ordered Alcohol Testing

When someone is arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI), the court may order an alcohol test. The purpose of this test is to determine the amount of alcohol in the person's system at the time of the arrest.

While breath tests, also called Breathalyzers, are commonly used to measure Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC), Courts may not order breath-based drug tests because of their short retention span in the body. This is because breath-based alcohol can get away from your body after one night of sleep.

As an alternative option, Courts go for EtG urine test or blood test to identify drug abuse while driving. While blood test may provide accurate results, for immediate results, courts may prefer urine drug test.

Not to mention that courts may also order an EtG Hair follicle drug test to detect long-term alcoholic abuse.

Does drug court test for alcohol in urine?

Yes, drug courts may test you for alcohol in urine that comes under their purview of their monitoring and rehabilitation programs. Drug court programs aim to address issues regarding substance abuse and encourage recovery, and hence they often conduct regular and periodical drug and alcohol testing.

Urine tests are a common method used for this purpose. This helps the court by providing with information about the individual's compliance with sobriety requirements.

Probation Drug Testing

Drug tests ordered by the court for pre-trial or probation may vary depending on the offense committed and the severity of the punishment.

The preliminary positive results are confirmed by GC/MS technique. Individuals who test positive will be given a chance to explain if they have any medical conditions, undergoing any treatments, or taking any prescription or over-the-counter medications. Medical Review Officer will verify the fact before releasing the drug test result.

What kind of drug tests do probation use?

Urine test is most commonly administered since it is inexpensive and can detect drugs immediately after use. A probation 5 panel drug test is the most common type of drug test conducted during probation. Sometimes, if the probation officer is trying to identify some synthetic opiates, he may go for a probation 10 panel drug test.

The type of drug test used by probation officers may vary based on the circumstances. it is not always a urinalysis. Sometimes, the parole officer may demand a hair follicle drug test or saliva drug test if he/she seems fit.

Alcohol testing is also carried out to detect the level of intoxication and/or prior alcohol consumption history. 

Failing probation drug tests can result in violation of probation. If anyone fails court-ordered drug test, they may have to face stringent restrictions, may be sent to rehab program or even jail time. Hence, it is crucial to take probation drug tests very seriously.

Final Words

Court ordered testing includes drug tests for DUI cases, divorce cases, child custody cases, child protective agencies, probation drug testing, and drug tests on attorney requests.

Anyone failing a court-ordered drug test may have to deal with restrictions that are more rigorous. Depending on the circumstance, one may be even required to enroll in drug rehab program or even jailed.

Drug tests help to determine how much an individual is affected by the consumption of drugs and alcohol. This can successively help assist in finding a way to relieve the ill-habits and make a change in humankind.


Can a judge make you take a drug test? 

Yes, a judge has the authority to order a drug test as part of legal proceedings, particularly in cases related to child custody, criminal matters, or concerns about substance abuse.

Can a judge order a hair follicle drug test? 

Yes, a judge can order a hair follicle drug test. This type of test provides a longer detection window than urine tests, offering a more comprehensive assessment of an individual's drug use history.

What is a supervised probation drug test? 

A supervised probation drug test is conducted under the direct observation of a probation officer to ensure test accuracy and reliability. This close supervision is intended to maintain the integrity of the testing process during the probationary period.

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