Last updated: November 27, 2023
In short, the answer to that question is yes. Many state-governed courts in the United States mandate court ordered drug tests for criminal and misdemeanor offenders. Divorce and child custody cases also warrant court ordered drug testing if the judge deems it necessary. Someone convicted of Driving Under the Influence (DUI) or Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) may be required to submit to court ordered drug and alcohol testing. Lastly, if someone violates probation, it could warrant assigned drug testing.
Rather than all courts using a uniform test, individual states determine the method used and the circumstances that warrant mandating them. Regulations are constructed around the severity of the offense coupled with someone’s prior history of drug use.
Which drug testing methods can be used?
Courts that aren’t federally regulated are free to use any drug testing method, even determining which would be best on a case-by-case basis if the drug testing protocol deems it so.
The urine test is most commonly used in all manner of drug testing scenarios. It’s got a proven track record for accuracy and can identify all types of drugs. It detects recent drug use and laboratory results are usually returned within a few days. There are sometimes concerns about the possibility of someone tampering with or substituting a specimen as the tests are not normally observed.
Saliva, otherwise known as oral fluid, drug tests detect recent drug use too. Moreover, there is no way to tamper with or substitute a specimen because the test subject is in constant sight of the person administering the test.
Hair follicle drug testing doesn’t actually require removing someone’s follicles from their scalp. Instead, technicians snip the hair sample close to the scalp from an inconspicuous place. The name reflects the fact that some drug metabolites store themselves in the hair follicles to await excretion. When the metabolites leave the follicle, however, they become infused with the hair shaft as it grows. It won’t ever break free which means hair testing enables a look back at a 90-day period. Any drugs used during that time will be detected.
We should note that the 90-day cutoff is due to the “standard” length of hair tested. Human hair grows at approximately 1/2 inch per month, thus 1 1/2 inches of growth equals 90 days.
Which drugs are detected?
Court ordered drug tests vary as to what types of drugs to identify.
Some court systems may stick with a predetermined drug test that can include a mix of any of the following:
- Phencyclidine (PCP)
- Amphetamines and methamphetamine
- MDMA, otherwise known as Ecstasy
- Hydrocodone, Hydromorphone
- Oxycodone, Oxymorphone
- EtG alcohol
Of course, if so stated in the drug testing protocol, a “special order” drug test isn’t out of the question. Virtually any drug testing panel can easily be added to any of the three available drug testing methods.
Used as a tool
If someone is unable to refrain from drug use even if not doing so will affect a decision made by a court of law, parties involved probably ought to be made aware.
On the other hand, court-ordered drug tests can actually play a part in someone’s rehabilitation process. The possibility of testing positive for drugs is a huge incentive not to use them. Moreover, continually “passing” when required to submit a specimen could increase self-worth. Not to mention the positive effect it can have on families as a whole.
People can change their lives for the better. We’re going to keep rooting for that.