Legal Considerations and Drug Testing

When it comes to legal matters, the first issue involving drug testing is whether the test is considered admissible evidence. Evidence that is not admissible cannot be used against you in court. Good lawyers can get faulty and unreliable drug testing methods and practices set aside. Even if drug tests results do not reach the "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard, they still might help incriminate you.

Generally, research into drug testing methods has shown that only the GC/MS urine drug test is reliable virtually every time. Its results are almost always admitted as long as proper procedures are followed and it has proper documentation (i.e. chain of custody). Other drug testing methods like EIA and RIA have only demonstrated about 90% accuracy. Not very a high percentage for a court of law where an innocent person might unfairly punished for every 9 guilty ones, so these drug tests are frequently not allowed as evidence. This is why EIA and RIA drug test are typically only used as a low cost screening drug test. Positive results are sent for more reliable drug testing.

How a drug test result is used, however, depends on the type of legal proceeding: criminal or civil. In a civil suit, another party is suing you for money because you have harmed or damaged them or their property. These cases do not rise to "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard. The plaintiff only has to shown that the defendant is most likely liable for the damages.

In a criminal proceeding, a local or federal government is prosecuting you for a crime and, theoretically, you must be proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Sometimes administrative penalties can be doled out in addition to criminal charges. For example, refusing to take a breathalyzer test may result in an automatic administrative penalty of a six month suspended license. You still might be criminally charged with DUI, however, with evidence other than the breathalyzer being presented. This might include the testimony of the arresting officer or the bartender, or the video from the squad car camera.

Why you are being drug tested is also relevant in terms of legal consequences. If you are being drug tested for employment screening there will be not any criminal result for using illegal drugs. You simply will not be offered the job. If it is random work place drug testing, again you will likely not be prosecuted, but you will probably lose your job. Some employers give you one chance for rehabilitation prior to discharge, followed by stringent oversight and drug testing. If you work in the transportation industry and have an accident, you will be drug tested and may face criminal prosecution if your fail. Frequently, in cases where an accident has led to injury or loss of life, you may be required to take a blood drug test. There is usually no way to beat a blood drug test if you have drugs in your system.

Laws vary from state to state, and sometimes between counties and municipalities. If you find yourself in criminal trouble over drug use or drug testing, find a good lawyer who specializes in this field. It might be expensive, but if you can avoid jail or a big fine, or keep a good job it can be money well spent.