Last updated: February 22, 2021
North Carolina drug testing locations
- Chapel Hill
- High Point
- Holly Springs
- Indian Trail
- Mint Hill
- New Bern
- Rocky Mount
- Wake Forest
- 11111 Carmel Commons Blvd Ste 220
- Charlotte, NC 38336
- 8000 Town Dr
- Raleigh, NC 27616
- 1002 N Church St Ste 200
- Greensboro, NC 27401
- 381 Ruin Creek Rd
- Henderson, NC 27536
- 200 Charlois Blvd Suite 420
- Winston-Salem, NC 27103
- 405 Owen Dr 2nd Floor
- Fayetteville, NC 28304
North Carolina drug testing laws
North Carolina is a state in the Southeastern United States. The state borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west, Virginia to the north, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. North Carolina is the 28th most extensive and the 9th most populous of the 50 United States. North Carolina is known as the Tar Heel State and the Old North State.
If an employer or a prospective employer in North Carolina has asked you to take a drug test, you will want to know your legal rights. Federal law places few limits on employer drug testing: Although the federal government requires testing by employers in a few safety-sensitive industries (including transportation, aviation, and contractors with NASA and the Department of Defense), federal law doesn’t otherwise require – or prohibit drug tests. For the most part, state and local laws determine whether a private employer may require drug testing.
North Carolina allows employers to require applicants and employees to take drug tests, as long as the employer follows state procedures. Employers are not required to drug test.
Drug testing for North Carolina applicants
Employers in North Carolina may require applicants to take a drug test as a condition of employment. Unless the applicant signs a written waiver, a positive test must be confirmed at an approved laboratory. Applicants have the right to retest a confirmed positive sample at their own expense, at the same lab that confirmed the sample or at another approved lab of their choosing.
Drug testing for North Carolina employees
North Carolina employers may require employees to take drug tests. There are no restrictions on the circumstances in which an employer may require a drug test. Testing must be performed under reasonable and sanitary conditions, and “individual dignity” must be respected to the extent possible. Drug tests must be performed by an approved laboratory. Employees have the right to retest a confirmed positive sample at their own expense, at the same lab that confirmed the sample or at another approved lab of their choice.
Controlled substance examination regulation act The following samples may be used for drug testing:
Protocols for drug testing in North Carolina
If a drug test for an applicant or employee produces a positive result, then the employer generally must confirm that result by a second examination at an approved laboratory. The laboratory conducting the confirmation test must preserve a portion of confirmed positive samples for at least 90 days (NC. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 95-232).
Within 30 days from when the results are mailed or otherwise delivered to the employer, the employer must give written notice to the affected applicant or employee of:
Any positive result The applicants or employee’s rights and responsibilities regarding re-testing.
(13 NC. Admin. Code 20.0402.) Sample notices are available on the North Carolina Department of Labor’s website. An applicant or employee may have a confirmed positive sample re-tested at the same or another approved laboratory. The applicant or employee must provide a written request to release the sample, specifying the laboratory to receive it. (NC. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 95-232(f).
Payment for the drug test in North Carolina
The employer must pay expenses related to all drug tests, except re-tests requested by the applicant or employee (13 NC. Admin. Code 20.0601). Applicants or employees must pay all reasonable expenses for re-tests of positive samples, including:
- The actual cost charged by the laboratory.
- The laboratory’s assessed fees for expenses associated with the re-test, including those for shipping and chain of custody.
- The employer’s expenses for shipping and chain of custody procedures up to $15, unless the employer proves that the actual cost was higher than $15.
Controlled substance examination regulation act
Prospective employees may be tested either:
- Onsite, meaning any location, other than an approved laboratory, at which screening tests are performed on prospective employees.
- At an approved laboratory. (NC. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 95-232(b); 13 NC. Admin. Code 20.0101.)
Confirmation tests of positive results and all tests for current employees must be performed at an approved laboratory (NC. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 95-232(c), (C1)).
Legal claims arising from drug testing
Even though North Carolina law allows employers to drug test, employees and applicants may have legal claims based on how the test was conducted, who was tested, or how the results were used. Here are some examples:
Violation of state laws and procedures. Although an employer has the legal right to test, it must follow the state’s requirements. For example, a North Carolina employee who was fired on the basis of an on-site drug screen rather than a test performed by an approved laboratory might have a valid legal claim.
Disability discrimination. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects an applicant or employee who is taking medication for a disability. 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.
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 is allowed or required 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 a privacy violation.
Defamation. An employee might have a valid claim for defamation if the employer publicizes that the employee tested positive, the test result was false, and the employer knew or had reason to know of the error.
If you are driving a vehicle on the roads in North Carolina, then as a matter of law you have already “implicitly consented” to submit to a chemical analysis of your person, to determine your blood alcohol content, if a law enforcement officer has probable cause to believe that you are driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs. In short, in exchange for the privilege of driving a vehicle in North Carolina, you were forced whether or not you were even aware of it to give up the right to be free from an intrusion by the State into the chemical composition of your body, at least under certain circumstances.
Below is an overview of this area of law, which should not be treated as comprehensive and does not address every scenario or component of the law.
Under the North Carolina General Statutes, § 20-16.2(a):
- Any person who drives a vehicle on a highway or public vehicular area thereby gives consent to a chemical analysis if charged with an implied-consent offense.
- Any law enforcement officer who has reasonable grounds to believe that the person charged has committed the implied-consent offense may obtain a chemical analysis of the person.
Further, under the same statute:
Under this section, an “implied-consent offense” is an offense involving impaired driving, a violation of 6.5. 20-141.4(a2), or an alcohol-related offense made subject to the procedures of this section. A person is “charged” with an offense if the person is arrested for it or if criminal process for the offense has been issued.