Last updated: February 24, 2020
USA Mobile Drug Testing has drug testing locations all over California. However, did you realize that we will come to you? We’ll roll up at your office, job site, or anywhere else that you need for us to be with everything needed to complete your employee drug testing efficiently and professionally.
We handle all types of employee drug testing.
California drug testing locations
- Chula Vista
- Elk Grove
- Garden Grove
- Huntington Beach
- Long Beach
- Los Angeles
- Moreno Valley
- Rancho Cucamonga
- San Bernardino
- San Diego
- San Francisco
- San Jose
- Santa Ana
- Santa Clarita
- Santa Rosa
- Simi Valley
- Thousand Oaks
CalI 800-851-2021 to schedule your test today!
Don’t see your city listed? No worries. Just call us. We’ll point you toward the nearest location or add you to the schedule and soon be headed your way! We can even handle your entire drug-testing program for you if you’d like.
Workplace drug testing has never been easier!
- 420 E. 3rd St Suite 802
- Los Angeles, CA 90013
- 1411 S Garfield Av Suite 100
- Alahambra, CA 91801
- 8501 Wilshire Blvd Suite 305
- Beverly Hills, CA 90211
- 960 E Green St Suite 164
- Pasadena, CA 91106
- 520 N Prospect Ave Suite 305
- Redondo Beach, CA 90277
California drug laws
The State of California’s drug possession laws divides into two broad categories.
- Simple possession
- Possession with the intent to sell
However, California laws have set up separate offenses related to PCP (phencyclidine) and methamphetamine.
The penalties for drug possession vary depending on the drug itself, how much of the drug was found in someone’s possession, and the intended purpose of possessing the drug.
In 2014, the citizens of California voted to pass Proposition 47. The new law made many drug possession offenses misdemeanors rather than felony charges. It also allowed those serving time in state prison for prior drug-related offenses to petition the court for resentencing.
The following possession crimes are misdemeanors only with penalties including up to one year in the county jail. The defendant is not sent to state prison if found guilty.
- Schedule 1 opiates, opium derivatives, cocaine base, mescaline, peyote, or synthetic cannabis
- Schedule 2 narcotics or opiates
- Schedule 3 hallucinogens
- Schedule 3,4, or 5
California drug testing laws
California State law allows private employers to legally test employees for drugs. However, the California Constitution and cases interpreting it don’t side with the employer hands down.
California is one of the few states with a state Constitution that includes a right to privacy. That right extends not only to government employees but to employees in private industry as well. California courts have determined that an employee’s right to privacy is affected by drug testing, but that doesn’t always mean drug testing is illegal. The court judges drug testing on a case-by-case basis. It balances the employer’s reason for testing against the intrusion on the employee or applicant.
It’s true that respecting an employee’s privacy is important. However, employers have an obligation to provide a safe workplace for everyone. They have every right to use employee drug testing as one way to promote a drug-free workplace.
One important note about California drug testing laws, DOT drug testing is enforced by the Department of California Highway Patrol. They are very serious about compliance in the drug testing program and have provided a checklist to ensure compliance.
Moreover, while all employers are welcome to create a drug-free workplace policy, you must be certified as a drug-free workplace if you have been awarded a contract or grant to provide any service for a California state agency.
All employers are able to include a drug-free workplace provision in their employee handbook as well. Proper employee notification is an important facet in successfully obtaining the court’s favor when requesting an employee drug test.
Rules for job applicants in California
California court cases have found that employers may require employees to pass a drug test as a condition of employment. As long as an employer tests all applicants for particular job positions and doesn’t single out certain applicants based on protected characteristics (such as race or disability), courts have upheld this type of testing.
California law allows residents to use marijuana for medical purposes. State law requires a doctor’s written authorization to use marijuana. A patient who has a valid prescription may not be prosecuted under state law for crimes relating to the use, possession, or cultivation of a certain amount of marijuana. However, California’s Supreme Court has held that an employer may refuse to hire an applicant who tests positive for marijuana, even if the drug is legally prescribed.
Rules for California employees
When determining whether a drug test was legal, California courts balance the employer’s reason for testing against the employee‘s legitimate expectation of privacy. California has recognized that employees start with a stronger claim here. They already have a job—and a work history the employer can use to evaluate their performance—which gives them more of a stake in the process and may give the employer less of a need to test.
An employer who has a reasonable suspicion that an employee is using drugs or alcohol while at work may be on safe legal ground for issuing a drug test provided that the suspicion is well documented and based on objective facts. Random testing is more controversial, although courts have upheld random testing for very safety-sensitive positions.
Legal claims arising from drug testing
In addition, to violating an employee’s or applicant’s constitutional right to privacy, drug testing may give rise to other legal problems.
Disability discrimination. An applicant or employee who is taking medication for a disability is protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Some prescribed medications turn up on drug tests, and some drugs that would otherwise be illegal (such as opiates) are legitimately prescribed for certain conditions. If an applicant is turned down because of a positive drug test, and the applicant’s medication was legally prescribed for a disability, the company could be liable (unless the drug is medical marijuana).
Other discrimination claims. An employer who singles out certain groups of employees—for example, by race, age, or gender—for drug testing could face a discrimination claim.
Invasion of privacy. Even an employer that has a legitimate reason to test might violate employee privacy in the way it conducts the test. For example, requiring employees to disrobe or provide a urine sample in front of others could be considered an invasion of privacy. The court takes the surrounding circumstances into consideration.
Defamation. An employee might have a valid claim for defamation if the employer publicizes that the employee tested positive or if the employer has reason to know that the test results might not be accurate. For example, if a retest showed that the first test was a false positive or the employee has appealed the first test, the employer may be liable for revealing the results of the positive test.
Types of drug testing
Pre-employment and reasonable suspicion are both pertinent reasons for employee drug testing. However, there are other situations in which employers feel justified to drug test. Many employers pattern their drug-free policies after those of the DOT. However, employers of the general workforce have the freedom to include any of the following types of drug testing in their drug-free policies.
The Court justified pre-employment drug testing under the California Constitution in the case of Loder v. City of Glendale. The court recognized the problems the city was having caused by employee drug and alcohol abuse. The City of Glendale had a legitimate and substantial interest in determining whether an applicant was currently engaged in drug use and tested all applicants after offering them a job.
In Pilkington Barnes Hind v. Superior Court, the California Court of Appeal came to a similar conclusion when ruling in favor of a pre-employment drug test by a private employer.
There’s not much guidance for the court as to what qualifies as “reasonable suspicion” of an employee’s drug use. Therefore, employers should rely on objective observations made over time. To ensure proper determination and documentation, the employer should train management regarding the warning signs of drug use. Some signs include slurred speech, difficulty walking, and bloodshot eyes.
When an employer fails to produce evidence that would constitute reasonable suspicion, the employee’s right to privacy generally prevails.
Post-accident drug testing in California is risky if employers want to implement the test after every accident involving an employee. The court sometimes sides with the employee on this one. Especially if the employer’s post-accident policy dictates that even accidents that result in minimal property damage or involve employees who don’t pose a significant threat to public safety.
On the other hand, employers who require post-accident testing after a fatality, an injury requiring immediate medical attention away from the scene of the accident, or involving substantial property damage have successfully won their day in court.
Random testing is required by the DOT for all safety-sensitive employees. Their names are entered into a pool and randomly drawn throughout the year. The number of employees required to randomly test is a ratio of the total number of employees in the company.
Many employees look at random testing as merely being testing without adequate suspicion of drug use. We already mentioned that without enough evidence to justify the drug test, an employee’s privacy rights will likely win the day.
However, that’s not always the case. In Smith v. Fresno Irrigation District, the employee’s expectation of privacy was ultimately outweighed by the employer’s “legitimate and substantial” safety-related reasons for random testing. A California Court of Appeal upheld random testing in regard to “safety-sensitive” positions. And, rightly so, don’t you think?
The California Court also ruled that random testing didn’t have to be limited to situations involving public safety. If an employee works in an occupation in which his or her impairment could threaten the safety of coworkers or the worker himself, the employer can justify random testing.
In summary, employers need to establish their stand on drug testing policies and the procedures that staff will follow from the get-go. If those policies include random testing, well-document its necessity from a safety standpoint. Moreover, all employees and potential employees must be aware that the company performs random testing, provide training as to signs and symptoms of drug impairment, and explain other actions that pertain to the drug testing protocol.
Marijuana’s in this mix
California has legalized both recreational and medical marijuana. It stands to reason that employees with proper authorization to use medical marijuana and recreational users alike are popping positive on drug tests in greater numbers than ever before.
It’s posing a problem for employers as there is no way to test for current impairment. Until there is, the majority of employers feel it’s necessary to keep marijuana on their drug test panels. It seems the State of California realizes that fact and left a carve-out for them. It’s well-established within California law that employers can stand with the federal government in regard to enforcing drug-free workplace policies.
And, currently, marijuana remains classed as a Schedule 1 narcotic with no medical purpose. Employers have every right to screen for marijuana use.
However, what happens if the STATES Act passes and the government removes marijuana’s Schedule 1 class?
That remains to be seen.
Several companies have marijuana breathalyzers in the testing phase. Scientists discovered that marijuana is detectable in the breath for approximately the same amount of time as the length of impairment. Having a tool available to detect current impairment will better allow employers to deal with the issue of marijuana legalization.
In the meantime, kudos to the State of California’s governing officials for allowing employers to keep marijuana on their employee drug tests and to follow through with company policies and procedures in regard to positive marijuana drug tests. If an employee or job applicant used the drug either medically or recreationally, odds are they are history.
Drug testing methods
While blood tests are capable of detecting drug use, they’re also very expensive. Moreover, trained medical personnel must administer the test in a proper medical setting. Employers and workers’ comp companies often require a blood test for a post-accident situation. Blood tests identify the parent drug rather than drug metabolites making them extremely useful in detecting current impairment. Having that information available aids inspectors in determining responsibility.
Normally, employers use one of three drug testing methods.
The urine test
Urine tests account for at least 90% of employee drug tests. They are cost-effective. Also, advances in technology , coupled with highly sophisticated lab equipment, make them extremely accurate in detecting adulterants and other attempts to falsify the test.
The amount of time that a drug is detected in the urine varies from a few hours after ingestion up to several weeks. Many are only detected for a few days whereas heavy marijuana users can test positive for the drug for thirty days or longer.
All test samples undergo an immunoassay (IA) test. Those that test positive go on for confirmation testing. The gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) test identifies the drug and its level.
Employers receive test results in a few days.
The saliva test
The saliva test is a bit more costly than the urine test. However, it detects recent drug use making it a popular choice for some employers. Law enforcement agencies see their value as well and some use them when suspecting impairment during a routine traffic stop or post-accident situation.
It’s easily administered and virtually impossible to replace the specimen sample with another as the test subject is never out of sight. Also, those that claim their product can mask or remove any trace of drugs from the saliva are false. The body constantly produces saliva. Therefore, the mouth swab saturates with oral fluid uncontaminated by the product.
Mouth swab tests detect some drugs immediately after use and up to seventy-two hours prior to the test.
The testing process goes a bit faster, although, those samples testing positive on the IA test go on to the GC/MS test. Employers receive test results in just a few days.
The hair follicle test
Next to the blood test, the hair follicle test is the most expensive drug testing method. However, employers that use it for employee drug testing disregard the expense because they find the fact that there is a ninety-day detection window for any and all drug use to be very valuable.
Drug metabolites store themselves throughout the body until excretion. Those that end up in the hair follicles exit the body. However, they don’t get very far because they grow out into the hair shaft. This leaves a permanent record of each time the drug is used—that’s pretty amazing!
Hair samples are cut to test length, one and one-half inches, at the laboratory before undergoing the IA test. Positive specimens go on to the GC/MS test for confirmation and identification.
It takes about a week to receive results.
USA Mobile Drug Testing offers all methods of drug testing. Furthermore, all our standard drug test panels easily apply to all of them. Whether you choose the standard 5 panel test or opt for a more comprehensive test like the 10 or 12 panel drug test, we’ve got you covered.
Moreover, we give our customers the option of swapping anything on the panel with a different drug, allow additional drugs to go on the test, and creating a custom panel is not out of the question by any means.
We’ve mentioned that, other than the hair follicle test, the length of time a drug is detected varies. That’s mostly due to the drug itself, however, even individual detection times fluctuate.
There are several reasons this happens.
- Age plays a part as our metabolism usually slows down as we grow older.
- Genetics has a lot to do with it; some of us just metabolize things at a slower rate than others.
- Weight factors exist as heavier people have a tendency to retain drug metabolites in the fat cells.
- The amount of and frequency with which a drug is consumed.
Department of Transportation—some new rules & regs
The DOT (Department of Transportation) was established to regulate the safety-sensitive workforce to ensure the safe passage of the general public on land, in the air, or while at sea. Several administrations work together to oversee the included industries.
- Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
- Federal Railroad Administration
- Federal Aviation Administration
- Federal Transit Administration
- Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration
- United States Coast Guard
The DOT drug test has always been a urine test. The standard 5 panel drug test identified amphetamines (which include methamphetamines), cocaine, marijuana, opiates, and PCP (phencyclidine). In fact, many employers of the general workforce followed suit and use the 5 panel drug test as well.
However, there is currently a change in the works as a request to begin using the hair follicle test rather than the urine test is making its way through the chain-of-command.
The trucking industry stands behind the DOTs request. In fact, some employers in that industry have employees submit to two drug tests. They incur the expense of using the hair follicle test in addition to the DOT drug test to obtain the ninety-day results.
Another recent change—the expanded opiates panel
In January 2018, the DOT added four synthetic opioids to their drug test panel in an effort to directly combat our nation’s rampant opiate addiction problem.
Hydrocodone, hydromorphone, oxycodone, and oxymorphone were all heavily prescribed pain killers at one time. However, they backed off after finally realizing the high potential for addiction. Sadly, by then, they were all over the black market.
Even worse, patients and others who find the addiction to expensive to feed, often turn to heroin as a cheaper alternative.
Yet another change on the horizon
Beginning January 6, 2020, all employers hiring commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers must query the FMCSA Clearinghouse to search for outstanding drug and alcohol violations. Furthermore, a query must be completed once a year for all drivers in their employ. Registration opened up the first of October and all employers need to be registered and ready to roll on January 6th.
In addition to completing a query on all prospective employees, an employer must continue to contact previous employers inquiring as to whether or not there are any outstanding drug or alcohol violations. However, after the database has been up and running for three years, that stipulation will be removed.
The FMCSA established the Clearinghouse to eliminate the possibility of driver’s simply not reporting a prior violation or moving to a new state and merely applying for a new CDL and carrying on. Drivers with outstanding violations can’t operate a CMV until completing the return to duty process.
Records remain on file for five years or until the driver completes the return to duty process, whichever is longer.
FAQs from employees
I thought random drug testing wasn’t allowed in California, but here it is in the company handbook. How come?
There are three groups of employees subject to random testing in California.
- Employees with CDLs (commercial driver’s license)
- Employees onboard vessels acting under the authority of the U.S. Coast Guard
- Employees in Bargaining Unit 6 who are peace officers and fall under testing criteria
I’m a minor, but I’m looking for a job. Will I get to skip the drug test?
No. A drug test is a medical test. Therefore, your prospective employer will merely need to receive parental consent.
Do I get to access the Clearinghouse and see what information they have on file about me?
Yes. Drivers can register themselves and access the website free of charge at any time.
So, I failed my DOT drug test. Can I dispute the result and take another one?
Actually, if you truly believe there was a mistake, proper protocol requires that you request a split speciment be sent to another lab for testing. Be quick about it though. After you receive your test result, you only have 72 hours to make your request.