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Important facts to know about military drug testing by urinalysis

On Behalf of | Jan 19, 2023 | Military Law

The United States military is a drug-free employer. This means that even in states where marijuana or CPD is decriminalized, members of the military can face disciplinary action if they have a positive result on a drug test. There are even stricter penalties possible for other drugs.

All members of the military are subjected to random drug tests. These are handled by either a random picking of service members or can involve testing everyone in a section or shift. In addition, service members can be subjected to a urinalysis directed by a commander on the basis of probable cause – which is the equivalent to a search warrant. Moreover, service members may be subjected to a urinalysis for medical treatment, and drug treatment urinalysis and similar tests are subjected to separate rules. Finally, a urinalysis is possible if you consent.

Not all urinalysis results are suitable for action

One thing to remember is that not all urinalysis results can be used for action under the Uniform Code for Military Justice. For example, a command-directed test that is without probable cause may not be admissible in a Court-Martial. IN CONTRAST, a urinalysis performed with your consent can be used for any UCMJ action including a Court-Martial. There are restrictions on the use of a urinalysis when it is taken for medical or drug treatment. It is important to remember that every situation must be evaluated separately.

Whether UCMJ or administrative action is contemplated, the chain of custody and protocol for collecting and testing the sample may be very relevant. Failure to follow appropriate procedures or ensure chain of custody can impact how the command can use the results of a urinalysis. Therefore, everything from the collection of the sample to the storage of the bottle and the lab procedure may become crucial. Moreover, there are circumstances where individuals may have ingested a drug without knowledge or intent. If this can be established, it means a person is not guilty of wrongful use.

Anyone who tested positive for drugs while serving in the military should act immediately. The simple fact is service members who test positive are assumed to be guilty of unlawful use. However, there may be areas of inquiry and investigation that can be undertaken to establish your innocence. However, any delay may impact the opportunity to secure exculpatory evidence. Service members who have tested positive may face an Article 15, administrative separation or even court-martial. Very simply a positive drug test can end your military career and leave you with an unfavorable discharge and loss of military benefits. If you test positive on a military urinalysis, you should discuss your situation with an attorney familiar with military legal matters as soon as possible.