As a Portland DUII Attorney, I represent many people who are facing revocation of their Diversion or a Probation Violation because of a “dirty U/A.” U/A testing is a mandatory part of any certified treatment program required to complete Diversion or a DUII Probation. A minimum of two U/A’s must be administered during treatment. However, most treatment programs administer them more frequently and do so on a random basis.
A U/A is generally performed using Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry. Minute amounts of alcohol or controlled substances can be detected using this process. The laboratories that perform this testing have thresholds over which a sample is deemed “positive.” One problem we often see is that the labs are setting their thresholds lower than accepted standards, raising the risk of false positive tests, as will be discussed later. A person who tests “dirty” can ask for a re-test and is usually asked to pay for the re-test if it confirms the initial positive result.
The Problem of False Positives
Well run treatment programs will give their client’s a list of items to avoid consuming during treatment because they risk having a false positive or innocent positive U/A. People are told to avoid mouthwash or liquid medication that contain alcohol, as well as alcohol based hand sanitizers.
There are other substances that cause false positives that may come as a surprise. 1). Poppy seeds. As little as one teaspoon of poppy seeds can result in a positive test for opiates, codeine and/or morphine for two to three days. 2). Prilosec. This acid reducer can cause a false positive for marijuana, 3). Cold Medicines and Anti-Depressant Medications. These can cause false positive results for amphetamine. 3). Zoloft. This can cause a false positive for benzodiazepines like Valium and Ativan.
Not all treatment programs are aware of the variety of substances that can cause false positives. As a result, they do not ask the right questions about other substances that may have caused a false positive result. The same is true of testing laboratories, who often do not inform the treatment providers of possible false positive results. Not all testing laboratories use the proper thresholds for determining the presence of prohibited substances.
In a recent case, we represented a person who supposedly tested positive for codeine/morphine and THC but who in fact had not taken opiates or used marijuana. The lab that tested his sample was using outdated thresholds for opiate testing that were far lower than those recommended by the testing industry and the U.S government. What our client’s sample really indicated was that our client had consumed poppy seeds which explained the positive for codeine/morphine and was taking Prilosec which caused the false positve for THC. Neither the treatment program did not ask our client any questions about the consumption of any substances that might cause a false positive result. The treatment center then discharged our client from treatment and reported a failed U/A to the Court. Fortunately, we were able to show the Court that the level of opiate drugs detected in the U/A was consistent with poppy seeds and the postive test for THC was a result of Prilosec. The client’s Diversion was not revoked and the client was referred to a different treatment program which, hopefully, will be more diligent in its testing procedures.
Hire a Lawyer With Knowledge of U/A Testing
As a DUI Defense lawyer in Gresham and Portland I thoroughly investigate allegations that my client’s have failed a U/A. Often, there are innocent explanations for allegedly dirty U/A’s. I have the staff available to assist me in these investigations, including a retired pharmacist with an extensive knowledge of drug chemistry.
By James F. O’Rourke Jr.
Source: JFO Rourke Blog
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