What Happens When You Fail a Drug Test?
What happens if you fail a drug test depends on a number of factors, most notably who’s testing you and why.
It’s time for your drug test. You’re not confident you can pass it. What if you test positive? What happens then? What can they do to you? Well, it depends on a number of factors, most notably who’s testing you and why. Here’s a basic breakdown of what happens if you fail a drug test.
Employer Drug Tests
Your employer has a right to drug test you before hiring you, as well as periodically once you’ve got the job. How often you’re tested and how much notice you’re given depends on the nature of the job, and how strict your employer is. For instance, if your job involves operating heavy machinery—which includes construction workers, as well as bus and cab drivers—you may be tested more often.
Different states also have different rules about when and how you’re drug tested. Some require written notice before testing you, and a number of states either prohibit or strictly limit random testing.
If you fail a drug test that’s been given as part of your pre-employment screening, then you most likely won’t be given the job. If you fail a drug test given by your current employer, any number of things can happen, depending on where you are and the severity of the situation.
Some states, such as Minnesota, have laws against firing you if it’s your first offense. Instead, your employer may offer you the opportunity for rehab. In most other states, though, your employer will most likely terminate you immediately if you test positive for drugs. Some states even offer grants and other incentives to companies whose entire workforce is drug free, so getting rid of you after a positive test is in their best interest.
If you’re not fired, you’ll likely be suspended until you can pass a “Return to Duty” drug test, showing that you’re now drug free. If you take a Return to Duty test and fail it, then it’s almost certain that you’ll be fired.
In most cases, you can challenge or appeal a positive test. If you can argue that there’s a chance of a false positive, you may be permitted to take the test again—usually a more rigorous lab test. While waiting for the results of the second test, your employer will likely suspend you without pay. However, if the second test comes back negative, they’ll have to pay you backpay for the time you missed.
It’s important to be aware of what your company’s drug policies are and whether any test you’re given is in keeping with those policies. It’s also important to know whether or not the company’s policies are in keeping with state and federal drug testing laws. By knowing your rights, and exactly when, where, and how often an employer is allowed to drug test you, you can ensure that you’re not taken advantage of.
Court Ordered Drug Tests
These tests are a little more serious. If you’re on probation or on parole, and one of the conditions is that you remain drug free, then you’ll have to pass a drug test periodically to prove that you’re adhering to the terms you’ve been given.
How often you’re tested depends on a number of factors. If your offense was drug-related, it will likely be significantly more often than if it was a non-drug offense. It also depends on your parole or probation officer. If they trust you, and/or they have a lot of other things on their plate, they might only test you once or twice. If you get someone strict, though, or someone who just plain doesn’t like you, they might require a test from you every couple of months, or even every couple of weeks.
So what happens if you fail one of those tests? Your case will be sent before a judge, and they’ll decide your punishment. They may decide to let you off with a warning, or they could send you to jail.
No matter what the circumstances are, failing a drug test can have serious consequences that may follow you around for a long time to come. Contact us to help you pass your drug tests and stay out of trouble, both with your employer and with the law.