HELP! I MIGHT FAIL MY DRUG TEST
You're on probation or pretrial supervision and you just found out you're going to have to take a drug test. You think you might fail your drug test and you're scared. What do you do? I get these calls from clients on a regular basis. Here's a list of Do's and Don't's when you're in this situation:
- Don't skip the test or stop reporting to probation/pretrial. If you do that, you can turn a smaller problem into a much larger one very fast.
- Don't try to drink lots of fluids to try to dilute the results. These tests measure the level of a protein in your blood that changes when you drink too many fluids. This will tell the drug lab whether you have tried to dilute your test results. Many court drug labs consider a "dilute" to be a positive drug test. You still end up in trouble, plus the judge may think you're trying to hide something, which makes it worse.
- Don't refuse to take the test, saying things like you can't provide the sample while someone is watching or you just "don't have to go right now." While it is understandable that it's not easy to "produce a sample" while someone is watching, most courts won't give you a second chance, and consider the refusal to be the same as positive, plus you look uncooperative. This doesn't paint a good picture to the judge, which might lead to you getting treated more harshly than if you had just taken the test and gotten a positive result.
- Don't run away from the drug lab. We occasionally see people panic and run when at the drug lab. In the process, they may push aside drug lab employees or deputies. This scenario is a very bad one. Judges do not tolerate refusal to take a test nor do they tolerate anyone putting their hands on a drug lab employee or ignoring the commands of a deputy. If you do this, you put yourself at risk of not only being punished for refusing to take the drug test, you may be looking at new charges such as assault, battery or obstruction.
- Don't use fake urine or someone else's urine. People are caught regularly trying to do this. It's not worth the risk. Just like with some of the other scenarios I discuss above, getting caught doing this could potentially open you up to new charges and make the judge very unhappy with you.
- Do stop using drugs right away. These court-ordered drug tests are not just a positive or negative. They show an actual number related to what substances are in your blood or urine. Probation officers and pretrial officers will look at the number and form an opinion on how recently they think you have used drugs. Every day that you don't use, the number goes down. The lower the number, the better the chance that they will believe it was a brief mistake, as opposed to ongoing use.
- Do take the test. Even if you're sure you'll test positive, all the scenarios I describe above where you didn't take the test can result in a much worse situation for you. It's tempting to avoid facing the consequences, but usually those consequences of a positive test aren't as bad as facing an angry judge who hears that you've been avoiding a test and/or totally stopped reporting. When that happens, you look like someone who doesn't respect the authority of the court, as opposed to someone who had a single slip-up and just needs a second chance.
- Do call a lawyer as soon as possible. You want to have someone ready to help you if you do have a positive drug test and it results in a bond revocation hearing or probation violation warrant. A lawyer can come with you to that court appearance and help negotiate on your behalf. A positive drug screen doesn't automatically mean you'll go to jail. Your lawyer may be able to get you a second chance or work out some other alternatives that don't involve any jail time.
What if I'm taking my first drug test and I fail it?
It's always important to go ahead and take the test, even if you think you'll test positive. Many probation officers and pretrial officers will use your first test as a "baseline." This means they will look at the levels of drugs in your system at that test, and not punish you at that first time if you test positive. Instead, they will tell you that the levels in your urine must go down sharply or to zero at the next test. Since weed (marijuana, THC) stays in your bloodstream for longer than most other drugs, it is important that you stop using right away so those numbers go way down. You will probably be tested regularly at first to be sure the levels in your urine keep going down or get to zero. After that first test, if your numbers stay the same or go higher, then they will know you are still using, and seek some kind of punishment against you. Also remember that some drugs don't stay in your system for long. For example, cocaine tends to be out of your system very quickly, often within 2-3 days. If they find high levels of cocaine in your urine, they will know you used very recently and will not be as understanding if that level isn't zero the next time you test.
What if I just delay taking the test for a little bit. Will that help?
If you fail to report to the drug lab when required, that is violation of your bond or probation. Probation officers and pretrial supervisors are very familiar with all kinds of avoidance tactics, and they've heard every excuse under the sun. They will be unhappy with you for not following their orders. As discussed above, doing things that make your probation officer, pretrial supervisor or the judge unhappy never benefits you. It's always better to be honest and accept the consequences. Often, the consequences aren't as bad as you think they will be and a good lawyer may be able to negotiate a second chance for you.
If you want to talk about the facts of your case, call Megan Grout at 404-904-2862. Consultations are always free.
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