Will I Be Drug Tested While On Probation?

By Jonathan Blecher on February 12, 2020

The answer is YES. If you’ve been placed on probation for DUI or any other criminal offense expect that the probation officer will require you to submit to drug testing. Alcohol is considered a drug, so positive result for either may result in a probation violation warrant for your arrest, or simply a warning. In the case of a full-blown probation violation hearing, you may be facing additional probation, counseling, or even worse – jail time.

What are the types of tests commonly used by probation supervisors and DUI programs?

For alcohol, they can use anything from a simple hand-held breath test device or urine tests. Here are some of those options:

  1. Hand-held breath testing devices: They can be less accurate and reliable than the evidentiary breath test instrument used in Florida -the Intoxilyzer 8000. The main problem with the accuracy and reliability of the hand-held device is that the device may be sensitive to temperature changes and environmental factors.
  2. ETG Alcohol Testing: The EtG test looks for Ethyl Glucuronide in the URINE, a metabolite of ethyl alcohol. Testing for EtG is typically used to determine if a person has recently consumed alcoholic beverages. Unlike alcohol, which is normally only detectable in urine for 24 hours or less, ETG can be detected for up to 80 hours after alcohol consumption. It is important to note that detection times may vary from person to person. This test is fairly reliable.
  3. Peth Blood Test: The test measures levels of phosphatidyl ethanol in the blood. PEth is used to detect prolonged or heavy “binge” alcohol consumption. It can pick up alcohol for 2-3 weeks but can be longer depending on how much alcohol was consumed or for how long. PEth testing is not sensitive to accidental alcohol contact, such as mouthwash or hand sanitizer, but it can happen.
  4. Urine tests for drugs: Not all courts use the same type of test. Tests vary depending on the regulations of each court jurisdiction. A probation officer may decide how often to drug test an individual based on the sobriety periods of the probationer. Some of the most abused drugs are THC, cocaine, PCP, opiates, and amphetamines like ecstasy and meth. There’s a basic 5-panel drug test, the test most frequently used by the government. They might use the 7-panel drug test, which also tests for barbiturates and benzodiazepines. There’s even a 10-panel and 12-panel for more exotic substances.

The most common drug tests are:

  • Urine drug tests: They are relatively inexpensive and easy to administer. Urine drug tests can detect a wide range of drugs, including marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, opioids, and alcohol.
  • Blood drug tests: Blood drug tests are more accurate than urine drug tests, but they are also more expensive and invasive. Blood drug tests can detect drugs in the blood immediately after use, but they can only detect drugs for a short period of time.
  • Hair follicle drug tests: These tests can detect drug use for a longer period of time than urine or blood tests. Hair drug tests are also more difficult to cheat than other types of drug tests.
  • Saliva drug tests: Saliva drug tests are less accurate than urine or blood tests, but they are also less invasive. Saliva drug tests can detect drugs in the saliva immediately after use, but they can only detect drugs for a short period of time.

In many cases judges require probationers to be drug AND alcohol-free while on probation or participating in a diversion program. Often probation officers will test a new probationer for drugs to establish a baseline for further testing. They may let a positive test result slide the first time, but not a second time.

Here are some of the most common drugs that are tested for:

  • Marijuana
  • Cocaine
  • Amphetamines
  • Opioids
  • Alcohol
  • Methamphetamine
  • PCP
  • LSD
  • Heroin

The detection window for drug tests varies depending on the drug and the type of test. For example, marijuana may be detected in urine for up to 30 days, while cocaine may only be detected in urine for up to 3 days.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, many probation offices, particularly ones supervising misdemeanor cases, have backed off from urine and breath testing due to health concerns collecting body fluids. However, with restrictions easing around the state, testing may be coming back.

If you are accused of violating your DUI probation, your best option is to secure a DUI attorney to represent you at your hearing. To get started, contact my Miami DUI defense firm to schedule a free consultation with me, a former prosecutor with over 40 years of experience defending DUI cases!

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