Military service members are no strangers to drug tests. Most service members know that returning to their unit following a holiday break or period of leave will more than likely bring the submission of a drug test. This is because all branches of the military possess a “Zero Tolerance” approach to the use of drugs. For this reason, a military notification of failed drug test might make you feel as if your military career is over. This is not always the case. With an experienced military lawyer, there are ways to fight a positive drug test. In this post, Wilkie Law Firm will inform you of how to fight a positive drug test in the military. 

Military Drug Testing

To ensure an alert and responsive fighting force, the Department of Defense (DoD) conducts military drug testing regularly. They do this through the use of urinalysis testing to monitor the presence of any controlled substance. In fact, the DoD labs test around 60,000 random urine samples every month. This doesn’t only pertain to Air Force drug testing. It also includes Marines drug testing as well as Navy drug tests. Members of the Guard and Reserves must also submit to drug tests at least once every two years.

How to Fight

There are a few ways for how to fight a positive drug test in the military. One way is to prove that the service member unknowingly ingested the drug. If a test comes back positive, the government must have more evidence than just that urinalysis was positive. They must be able to prove that the reason for the positive result was because the individual consciously ingested an illegal substance. If the member consumed the substance without prior knowledge, it is not considered misconduct and may allow an unknowing/innocent ingestion defense.

There is also the possibility that there were collection or testing errors made while handling the service member’s sample. The DoD provides very detailed and specific instructions for how test administers should conduct and handle each screening. Any deviation from these instructions, no matter how slight, can cast doubt on the accuracy of the results.

At Wilkie Law Firm, Marine Corps veteran Aden Wilkie knows the ins and outs of how military drug testing must take place. He will comb through each record and document to ensure that every instruction was properly met. If there is a chance that errors got made in the collection, testing, or handling of your urine sample, our military drug crime attorney will find them.

How Accurate are Military Drug Tests?

There are several protections that the military takes to ensure the test results are accurate. To start, each individual must write their initials on the label of their own bottle. There is also someone present to observe the service member while they urinate into their bottle to ensure they do not try to cheat. The bottles are then boxed into batches, and the person responsible for administering the test will begin a chain-of-custody document for each batch. 

The chain-of-custody is a legal document that requires anyone who’s had contact with the bottle to sign. This may be anyone from the observer to the person who puts the bottle in the box as well as the person who takes it out. Essentially, the document provides a written record of anyone at all who had direct contact with the urine sample at any time. The document also applies to anyone who handles the sample in the lab. The names of each person and what they did to the sample must appear in this document to ensure its accuracy.

Can You Retake a Military Drug Test?

If you are an active service member, you are not able to retake a failed drug test. Only applicants looking to join the military can retake a failed drug test. 

At the discretion of the branch of service, new recruits who test positive on a drug screening are able to reapply. They may do so only after 90 days have passed since the last test. Applicants who fail a drug test twice are automatically and permanently disqualified from serving in any branch of the military.

What Happens When You Fail a Drug Test in the Military?

After a service member takes a drug test, it will get sent to the lab. Once the sample arrives, it will undergo an immunoassay screening. This will indicate the presence of drugs as either negative or positive. Those that come back positive undergo the same screening process to prove accuracy.

If the test appears positive after both tests, the sample will go through a much more specific type of screening. The screening, called a gas chromatography/mass spectrometry test, can identify specific substances within the sample. 

These screenings can indicate the presence of marijuana, cocaine, LSD, opiates, amphetamines, barbiturates, and PCP. However, not every sample will always test for these all at once. Instead, each sample will test for marijuana, cocaine, and amphetamines. Tests for other types of drugs occur at random and on varying schedules for each lab. 

The test must reach a certain level to be positive. Even if there are drugs in someone’s system, if the level is below a certain threshold, it will come back as negative. If the test does reach that level and is positive, this signifies that the service member failed the drug test.

Failing a military drug test will most likely result in administrative or disciplinary action against the individual. It may even result in court-martial charges

Air Force members, either non-commissioned officers or officers, who test positive for hard drugs like LSD, cocaine, MDMA, etc. will most likely face court-martial charges. Airmen or other lower-ranking members who test positive for marijuana often face Nonjudicial punishment in accordance to Article 15 and discharge. Navy or Marine Corps members who fail a drug test will likely face Mast/NJP and an administrative discharge proceeding. Army and Coast Guard members of any ranking generally face Nonjudicial punishment in accordance to Article 15 and an administrative discharge.

How Long Does it Take For a Drug Test to Come Back in the Military?

There is never a definite answer for how long military drug test results take. Generally though, if the drug test results are negative, it will often take somewhere between 1 to 3 days to come back. If the results are positive, it may take a bit longer, often 3-5 days from the time the sample arrived at the lab. Results, regardless of whether they’re positive or negative, get posted to the web portal for program managers.

Why Should I Hire a Civilian Attorney Instead of Active Military Counsel?

To protect your career, your future, and your name, hiring civilian counsel as opposed to active duty counsel is a much better option for several reasons. For starters, when you accept free legal counsel from the military, your case is assigned to a lawyer simply based on whoever is available at the moment. That means your own personal preferences will not be taken into account. Simply put, you get who you get. On the other hand, when you hire outside legal counsel from a private civilian defense attorney, you have the ability to choose someone who you trust and feel comfortable with. You have the ultimate say in who handles your case, so you can factor in your own preferences and requirements when choosing legal representation.

Another advantage of hiring a civilian defense attorney is that they are not subject to intimidation or threats the way military defense attorneys often are. Things like the chain of command, ranking, and supervisory chain of responsibility have no power over private attorneys. This means there is nothing to discourage them from pursuing anything but your best interests. For example, an attorney such as Aden Wilkie is not concerned with things like evaluation reports or opportunities for promotion. Unlike active military counsel (who must work under restraints by their chain of command), Aden only does what is necessary to best protect the interests of his client. There is no chain of command or other internal factors that may influence their duties when a civilian attorney takes on your case.

Yet another major benefit to hiring civilian counsel is the knowledge that they are 100% dedicated to your case and will put in the necessary time and effort to create the strongest possible defense. As a private attorney who works for no one but himself, Aden Wilkie can choose which cases he takes and when he takes them. He is careful to never overload his schedule so that he can dedicate enough time and resources to the cases he chooses. Military-provided counsel do not have this same luxury. They are responsible for taking any case that comes through their door, which often means they are overworked and likely, overwhelmed. As a result, they have much less time to focus on your individual case, which in turn can have a significant impact on the outcome of your case.

These are only a few reasons why obtaining private civilian counsel with experience in Military law often leads to a much better outcome than accepting uniformed counsel. Speak with Aden Wilkie at Wilkie Law Firm today and see for yourself why he is the best fit for you.

Contact The Devil Dog Defender Today

If you’re wondering how to fight a positive drug test in the military or if it’s even possible, stop what you’re doing and call the Devil Dog Defender today. At Wilkie Law Firm, we provide aggressive criminal defense for military service members of all branches. Due to his unique background, Aden Wilkie has a special understanding of the rules and regulations surrounding military drug testing. He is well-suited to help members of the military when they need legal support the most.

Failing a drug test doesn’t mean your military career has to end. Contact military defense lawyer Aden Wilkie today by calling 910-333-9626. You can also visit our website to request your free consultation.

Located in Jacksonville, Wilkie serves the entire state of North Carolina as well as its surrounding states. He is also able to service any military installation located in the United States, but travel fees will apply. If you’re located at Fort Bragg, Camp Lejuene, or any other military installation, you need the Devil Dog Defender on your side.