What Happens if You Fail a Drug Test?

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Drug tests are performed every day throughout America and the rest of the world, for various reasons. Certain jobs require candidates to take a pre-employment screening as part of the application process, and some employers carry out random tests over the course of your employment. If you are on probation, you may be required to take urinalyses, and police often carry out roadside check to ensure that drivers are not under the influence of any substances. Athletes are also subject to random substance screening, to ensure that they do not have an unfair advantage as a result of performance-enhancing substances. In most cases, a high percentage of subjects pass the test, compared to those who fail; however failures do occur. Depending on the situation, the consequences vary dramatically. Read on to find out what happens when you fail a urinalysis.

If You Fail a Pre-Employment Drug Test, What Happens?

Pre-employment drug screenings occur in many jobs because if an employee is under the influence of substances, it can affect the safety of the workplace for everybody. If asked by a potential employer to take a test, then you are required to take and pass the test. If you fail the test and disagree with the result, you may be able to be re-tested. If you believe that you have failed because of prescribed medication that you take, you will be required to prove this and prove that you took the proper dosage. The chances are that you probably will not get the job; however, exceptions can occur. If you refuse to take the test, this is generally treated the same as failing.

The results do not go onto any public record that could be seen by future employers or anyone else, apart from one exception. Department of Transport (DOT) employers can find out about any previous DOT tests that you have failed, and you are required to disclose any prior substance screenings results to them when applying. Your test results will also not be passed on to any authorities, and there will be no legal consequences for failing a pre-employment screening.

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How About If You Fail a Test at Work?

Many companies carry out periodical or random checks of their employees. This may occur at work, or you might be sent to a lab. Unfortunately, if you fail, you will most likely lose your job. However, this isn't always the case – if you're a good employee, you may be able to ask for a second chance, but you will have to ensure that you don't fail any future screenings. Like with pre-employment checks, the results will not be shared with anybody else, except for if you work in the DOT. However, future employers are likely to ask your reason for leaving the position, and the chances are that the company will not provide a good reference for you.

There will also be no legal repercussions; however, there is a high chance that being fired for failing a drug test will mean that you cannot claim unemployment benefits, but this varies from state to state, so it is worth checking.

What About When You’re on Probation?

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If you are required to take checks as part of the terms of your probation, the consequences of failure can be much more severe than those of failing an employment screening, and they also vary in different cases. The penalty may depend on several factors including the offense that put you on probation in the first place, the laws of your state, and how lenient your probation officer is.

The worst case scenario is that you have to go to jail, and your probation could also be revoked, meaning that you will serve your full sentence in prison. You could also be charged with an additional crime. Alternatively, you may have your probation time extended, be ordered to complete community service, ordered to go to rehab or ordered to pay a fine. You may also be subject to more frequent checks for the duration of your probation. The test result will go on your record, so if you fail a second time, then the punishment may be much harsher. Not turning up for testings will also have severe consequences.

A Roadside Check?

If a police officer has reason to believe that you may be driving under the influence of substances, you must complete a urinalysis. There are various ways of administering these tests including urine samples, blood samples, breath tests and swabbing saliva. They may also carry out other roadside tests such as checking your pupils for size, condition, and reaction to light. If you are taking any prescribed medication that may have affected your result, you are required to prove this. If you are found to have been driving under the influence of substances, penalties can vary. The chances are that you will receive a driving ban and a criminal record. You may also have to go to jail or pay a fine.

What If You're an Athlete?

Athletes are subject to random screenings to check that they are not taking any performance-enhancing substances, in an effort to ensure fair competition. It should be noted that in general, less than 2% of athletes fail these tests. Tests are administered in the form of blood samples or urine samples and then tested in a laboratory.

Sanctions vary in each situation; however, the athlete may be suspended from competing for a period of time, and any win while under the influence will most likely be null, with any medals or prizes returned. Their record, results, and standing in competitions may also be voided. In the most extreme cases, athletes may be banned from competing at a professional level for the rest of their lives. Refusing to complete a urinalysis, penalties similar to those of a failed test will apply.

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