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The Science Behind Drug Testing

by | Jan 11, 2024 | Criminal Defense, Drug Crimes, DUI/DWI


Drug tests can greatly influence legal outcomes and if charged with a drug crime, understanding them is crucial. In this article, we focus on three methods: urine analysis (UA), blood tests, and hair tests.

Urine Analysis (UA) Tests

These are common for detecting recent drug use. While accurate, they may not catch drug use from several days ago. The test’s effectiveness can vary depending on the drug’s strength and how often it’s used. For example, high-purity drugs like pure cocaine are more likely to be detected than diluted ones. While some may believe it’s possible to mask a UA test by drinking a lot of water, this is a myth and ultimately won’t affect the UA’s ability to detect the presence of drugs. UAs are simple to administer, as they don’t require a medical professional for sample collection. However, their accuracy depends on the lab’s testing standards and methods, and sometimes, certain drugs might not be detected if the test isn’t specifically looking for them. UAs can be used as evidence in court, but a skilled defense attorney can challenge them on various grounds like collection, handling, and chain of custody.

Blood Tests

These are extremely accurate and can find drugs in the system shortly after use. They’re often accepted in court and can specify exact drug levels in the blood measured in nanograms, or 1/1,000,000,000 of a gram. However, blood tests require trained personnel for collection and can become contaminated if specific protocols aren’t followed. To avoid contamination, the person administering the test should not use an alcohol swab when collecting the sample, unlike other kinds of blood tests. Like UAs, there are challenges, including potential errors in collection, packaging, chain of custody, and testing. These tests must follow strict procedures to be admissible in court.

Hair Tests

Known for their long detection window, hair tests can trace drug use back several months. They’re reliable and don’t need specialized personnel for sample collection. Unlike urine tests, they’re unlikely to detect recent drug use but are excellent for showing a history of drug use. Hair can be collected from anywhere on the body, debunking the myth that shaving one’s head can prevent testing.

The accuracy and reliability of these tests can vary due to factors like testing methods, drug type, and individual metabolism. At Kohlmeyer Hagen Law Office, we’re committed to protecting your rights. Our team, with over 50 years of collective legal experience, ensures comprehensive legal support in all matters, including those involving drug testing. If you have questions about drug charges or drug testing, contact our office for a consultation.

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