What Kind Of Drug Tests Do Courts Use?

What Kind Of Drug Tests Do Courts Use?

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Drug tests are becoming inevitable. Apart from those drug tests that are taken during pre-employment or probation, the court-ordered drug test is completely different.

Yes, the legal requirement of the drug test may involve various situations. It might be due to the accusation of illicit drug intake or behaving rudely to the child and other such criminal acts which might be due to the influence of the drugs and/or alcohol.

In most of the cases, those persons who are convicted of DUI or DWI are drug-treated before proceeding further by the court. If you or your loved ones are one among those above-mentioned cases, then they are going to be involved in a drug test ordered as per court guidelines.

But you might be wondering “How does the court drug test sound? What kinds of drug tests do the court order?”

Court-ordered drug tests are not the same across 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.

Table of Contents:

Reasons For Drug Testing By The Courts

There are several reasons why the court requires to drug test any particular individual. First and foremost, if you are in prison and you are getting out on parole, the parole officer must check whether you are drug-free before letting you off. It is based on the court orders that one should maintain sobriety while getting out of jail on parole.

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

The court will order for 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.

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

Drug testing is done by using various specimens of our body. 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 noninvasive. It provides short detection period (a few days) and recent use of drugs can be detected in any person.

Mouth swab drug test is also used where oral fluids or saliva specimen is collected to screen for drugs. The specimen cannot be tampered since it is collected under direct supervision and is also noninvasive. This also provides recent drug use history similar to urine test, but has a slightly varied detection period, i.e., drugs can be detected within a few hours.

If the court wants to find the previous drug use history, then the preferred test method is the hair follicle test. Hair follicle tests can detect the usage of drugs up to a period of 90 days or even more. Hair follicle testing involves the collection of hair from the head or body as a sample for testing. This makes it hard to cheat. If the suspect had fully shaved his head hair, then hair from any part of the body is taken for testing. This may become even worse if you have taken any drugs because the body hair retains the drug metabolites for a longer period than the head hair.

Most of the time, courts prefer taking both urine and hair samples to get a clear picture of the individual’s drug use history. Another interesting fact is that your attorney or any legal contact can assist you with what kind of drug test you need to take as per court order. There are a huge number of drug tests and you need to know what type of drug test you will be undergoing. In that case, your attorney will help you to determine the test you need to get the specifications in writing.

What Kind Of Drugs Are Detected During The Drug Test?

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 government institutions and entities, including Department of Transportation. Sometimes, 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. If courts require additional information, customized panels to screen for OPI and synthetic OPI can be made. Opioid usage has been increasing among the population, who are alleged to get addicted without their knowledge. In that sense, the courts had taken this step to rigorously put down the usage of opioids.

Drug Testing Frequency

It is not a fixed pace where the court orders the drug test. They are conducted on a random basis or sometimes follow a regular schedule. To be precise, a drug test will be conducted randomly or at a scheduled time based on the severity of the offense. For instance, if an individual is accused of drug intake during probation, then the probation officer will drug test the probationer in a random manner. This will prevent the probationer from preparing self to cheat the test. In most cases, regular and random testing's are considered to be effective.

Considering the above facts about the court-ordered drug tests, their drug detection mechanisms, their specimen requirements and the frequency, you can draw a clear picture of how the system works. There are common cases where the court orders for a drug test in an individual. They include child custody drug tests, probation, and DUI or DWI based drug tests.

Child Custody Based Drug Testing Methods

This is one of the most sensitive cases where the court should take cautious action. It is because the child’s future is at stake. If a spouse alleges or reports to the judge about another’s drug usage or drug abuse, then the court initially checks the health of the child, its physical conditions and makes sure that the child is doing well. Later, the court will order a drug test for the alleged spouse. If the alleged spouse gets through the drug test, then access to child care will be awarded or else, the chances are meager.

It works considerably. The court tests for drug usage or alcohol consumption in the suspected parent or guardian. Drug tests involve two primary tests – hair and urine testing. When it pertains to alcohol, almost 90 to 95 percent of the alcohol will be broken down by the liver, but the remaining 5 to 10 percent will be straying in your body which gets released either by sweat or urine. Urine can detect alcohol within a few days and hair for up to 90 days.

DUI or DWI Based Court-Ordered Drug Test

DUI and DWI are the abbreviation of “Driving Under Influence” and “Drive While Intoxicated”. A lot of people are losing their innocent lives due to road accidents. According to a survey, nearly 70% of deaths are due to drugs and the remaining 30% are due to carelessness. 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 on cases that deal with accidents and other associated cases. Following the fine that would be charged for DMV fees, attorney fees and other fines, the DUI or DWI charge will cost you thousands of dollars.

Driving a vehicle while intoxicated with drugs is a heinous crime. It doesn’t mean if you drink and drive once is not considered a crime. This becomes serious only if you involve yourself in multiple DUI cases. Most of the alcohol drug tests ordered by the courts for DUI involve urine drug testing. A urine sample collected within 36 hours of suspicion may prove if the suspect is guilty or not. Another most specific yet common drug test, when the driver is under influence, is the breath drug testing method. This device provides an instant result to determine the current state of the suspect.

Alcohol once consumed spreads to all parts of the body and so it reflects in the breath in a very short time. Breath alcohol concentration is directly proportional to the blood alcohol concentration. This is based on the simple logic that if a person’s breath contains higher levels of alcohol content, then definitely the blood too would contain similar amounts.

Blood alcohol testing was previously done by trained breath control technicians (BAT). Nowadays, it is tracked by an Evidential Breath Testing device. This device will show the numerical value of the alcohol level in your breath. Courts do not order breath-based drug tests because of its short retention span in the body. Yes, breath-based alcohol can get away from your body after one night of sleep, but courts can consider this test as evidence of consumption.

Probation Based Drug Testing

Drug tests ordered by court for pre-trial or probation may vary depending on the offense committed and the severity of the punishment. Probation drug testing is conducted randomly in order to prevent the probationer from attempting to cheat on drug test. They may administer the basic 5-panel to 12-panel drug tests to screen for the commonly abused drugs or more, and may also include alcohol test.

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.

Urine test is most commonly administered since it is inexpensive and can detect drugs immediately after use. If this test is administered properly, the attempts to cheat the system can be minimized. Urine test is considered to be an effective and affordable test since it can detect most drugs and their metabolites. The detection time also varies in individuals because of factors like metabolism, body weight, type of drug used, etc.

The other method used by probation officers is hair follicle drug test which is getting more popular among employers and court systems. This test is opted because of its longer detection period. The hair specimens can determine drug usage in the past 90 days. The hair follicle test is also used to determine chronic, heavy and infrequent drug users. The hair specimen is taken from head or from other parts of the body. The demerit of this test is that the hair specimen less than 1.5 inches cannot be used for testing.

Alcohol testing is also carried out to detect the level of intoxication and/or prior alcohol consumption history. A probation officer can use any of the biological specimens such as blood, urine, hair, saliva, breath or nails.  EtG alcohol can be detected via hair follicle testing. Breath alcohol test is administered to determine an individual’s current level of blood alcohol instantly. Urine, blood, hair and nail specimens are also used to screen for alcohol. These tests have different detection windows and sensitivities, and can help determine an individual’s alcohol usage 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.



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