Probation Alcohol Testing

12 Aug

This article provides general advice and information on probation alcohol testing. Please add your questions, experiences (the same? different?), and comments. Note: Nothing here is legal advice and the details are entirely dependent on your specific case.


We’ll start with the most basic question everyone has in this situation.

How does alcohol testing for probation work?

There are a number of ways this could play out depending on your state, jurisdiction, local laws, and the severity of your offense (first time, repeat offender, type of DUI, etc.)

Here’s a look at some of the possibilities:

  • Meetings with your probation officer will be scheduled in advance. At these meetings you might be subjected to a urinalysis drug test for alcohol.
  • Probation officers may show up at your home and require you to submit a urine sample on the spot for testing. They may call first or they may not. They may also casually look for evidence of alcohol consumption in your home – empty bottles, beer cans, etc.
  • Probation officers may show up at your work randomly and require you to submit a urine sample for alcohol testing. They may call first or they may not.
  • Your probation officer may call you, unannounced and unscheduled, and require you to come in to submit a sample at any time.
  • You may be assigned to a group, given a number, or some type of ID, which you would then check on by calling a number every night. When you call you will learn if your group/ID is randomly chosen for testing, in which case, you will then be required to give a urine sample.

What happens if a fail my probation alcohol test?

If you don’t pass your test then you could:

  • go to jail
  • be fined a penalty
  • face additional random testing
  • have your probation period extended

These penalties could also apply if you don’t show up for a test or refuse to cooperate in giving a sample. If you fail to show up for a test, and then fail to show up for the follow up “show cause hearing”, a warrant could be put out for your arrrest.

The extent to which these penalties are applied vary depending on your location and the nature of your probation / case.

If you are facing actual jail time after failing your probation alcohol test you will benefit greatly by having a lawyer represent you and work with the judge to reduce your sentence.



What Kind of Drug Test is Done?

Again there is no one answer for all situations, but overall a standard urinalysis test is conducted for testing. The majority of testing is conducted using an immunoassay drug test, which in this case would probably use an ethanol urineĀ  test, also called EtG alcohol testing/. This means the test looks for evidence of alcohol consumption by identifying the metabolites the body produces after consuming alcohol (ethanol). You may also want to read the following post on how long does alcohol stay in urine.



Advice for Dealing with Probation Alcohol Testing

  • Impress your probation office. Cooperate with them, work with them. Don’t be a dick. Many POs are overworked and are going to focus their time chasing the people who give them a reason to do so. Don’t give them a reason. Don’t act sketchy and of course, stay clean.
  • Pay your fines. Keep your fined paid. Don’t give the courts a reason to spend any more time and attention on you.
  • Keep ALL alcohol out of your home. This means if you have roommates or a spouse who drinks, you really need to get them to NOT have beer in the fridge, etc. PO can show up at your house and you do not want to have alcohol around, even if it’s not yours.
  • Avoid any products with alcohol in them. This means avoiding things like hand sanitizer, cologne, mouthwash, etc. Read the label, look at the ingredients and do not use it if it has alcohol or ethanol. Unforunately ETG tests for alcohol are sensitive enough to pick up alcohol absorned through hand sanitizer, mouthwash, etc, causing a false positive which means you failed the test even though you didn’t drink.

In Summary:

  • Follow the conditions of your probation, pay your fines, and cooperate will your probation officer and you’ll do fine.

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