Drug Testing

Design drug testing to be frequent, random, and observed. Document testing policies and procedures in writing.

"Drug testing is an important means of verifying youth accountability to the drug court program. The testing provides feedback that is objective and quickly available, and when properly administered, it can be reliable measure of abstinence, and essential aspect of program compliance and progress. To be reliable, drug testing needs to be frequent, random, and observed." (Excerpt taken from the Juvenile Drug Courts: Strategies in Practice)

Resources & Tools

Use the In-Practice Tip Sheet on Drug Testing to provide operational steps to implementing the 16 Strategies in Practice. The Drug Testing Tip Sheet focuses on dissemination of policies and procedures regarding drug testing to team members and participants; having a clear understanding of random drug testing; understanding that the treatment response is important for each positive sample; and analyzing their drug testing policy and monitor sanctions closely. For additional In-Practice Tip Sheets click on Practical Tips to Help Juvenile Drug Court Teams Implement the 16 Strategies in Practice. 

Use the "Drug Tesing Reference Table" to understand the detection period, advantages, and disadvantages for each type of drug test.

To veiw a sample EtG Drug Court Contract, click here.

External Web Resources:

National Criminal Justice Reference Service

Click here for a list of Drug Testing Forms which are located on the National Criminal Justice Reference Service Website.


The Marijuana Detection Window: Determining The Length of Time Cannabinoids will Remain Detectable in Urine Following Smoking
By Paul L. Cary, M.S. - Published by the National Drug Court Institute

Urine Drug Concentrations: The Scientific Rationale for Eliminating the use of Drug Test Levels in Drug Court Proceedings
By Paul L. Cary, M.S. - Published by the National Drug Court Insititute

Things to Consider

  • The drug testing should be completely random and entail both instant (spot) lab evaluated results. 
  • The drug testing should be observed. 
  • The JDC team should not use "levels" to determine sobriety. 
  • There should be multiple types of drug testing and adulterant devices used in the program.
  • The JDC should have a documented chain of custody for all urine and testing samples. 
  • The drug testing procedure should be clearly outlined for both program purposes and for participating youth and families. 
  • The credibility of UA Testing laboratory should be determined.
  • Team should be trained on how to interpret results.

Frequently Asked Questions

What information should be contained in a written policy and procedure manual regarding drug testing?

  • Type of testing that will be conducted.
  • Frequency of the testing.
  • Steps to be followed in a sample collection.
  • Procedures to follow if a youth challenges a test result.

Can future test results be used for subsequent prosecution?
Drug testing should be conducted only to monitor and supervise treatment not to further punish the youth. In addition, treatment decisions should also factor the youth’s behavior and other key indicators of progress. 

What are some common ploys that youth will use to avoid being caught?

  • Substitution of a specimen taken earlier or from another individual.
  • Addition of other substances to the test specimen.
  • Ingestion of other fluids before testing.
  • Damage to the collection materials.

Should the court test only for the youth’s original drug of choice?
No. Some youth will switch drugs in an attempt to avoid detection. Never accept a youth’s admission of drug use in lieu of administering a test. The youth may admit use of one drug but fail to report the use of others.