Substance Abuse And Addiction - Other

Why Probation Officers Drug Test

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A Probation Officer will administer a drug test based on why a person was placed on probation.  Not all probationers are subject to drug testing.  Whether a drug test is administered depends on several factors which are initially established by the court.  It may be a standard condition for all probationers to submit to drug testing in some jurisdictions.  Within other court systems only specific cases would subject an individual to having to be tested for drugs.  The person placed on probation for a Driving While Intoxicated Charge will have a condition listed on their probation that they must submit to blood, breath, or urine testing at the request of their Probation Officer or another law enforcement officer.  This condition is put in place because the use of substances has obviously caused legal problems for the probationer.  So at any time during the individual’s term of supervision their probation officer may ask them to randomly submit to a drug test. However the cost and time involved with testing influences whether an officer chooses to test the DWI offender.  Officers may reserve testing for someone who has a drug related charge like Possession of Marijuana.   

Other charges such as Passing Bad Checks may not have a condition of probation for drug testing.  In that case a Probation Officer cannot just choose to drug test the probationer.  The probationer must have given the officer reason to request a test.  For example, sweet Aunt Ruth who was put on probation for writing bad checks for groceries may arrive to her Probation Officer’s office under the influence of alcohol.  In that case the Probation Officer has the right to ask the client to submit to a breathalyzer.  However because testing is not a condition of Aunt Ruth’s probation,  Aunt Ruth may decline to submit to the test and cannot be made to do so.  In this case the Probation Officer would need to make the Judge and the Prosecutor in the case aware that Aunt Ruth drove to her appointment and had the odor of intoxicants coming from her person.  The Probation Officer can then request that a condition for drug testing be added to her probation. If drugs or alcohol were a contributing factor in the criminal charge a person may be subject to drug testing. 

If a probationer incurs new legal charges or continues to have negative contact with law enforcement while on probation this will often alert the Probation Officer that a person should be drug tested.  The use of alcohol, marijuana, and prescription drugs often play a part in a person incurring new legal charges. Probationer's who often call in to re-schedule appointments and often miss appointments will more than likely be asked to submit to drug testing.  Avoidance behaviors are a great indicator that someone may be using illegal substances which is a violation of their probation. 

Ultimately the decision to drug test is a judgment call by the Probation Officer.  Drug testing is time consuming and expensive.  It is certainly not an aspect of the job a Probation Officer enjoys.  Watching probationers urinate and handling their urine is not what an officer went to college to do.  It is a necessary part of the job that is put in place to protect the community and the person placed on probation. 

More about this author: Jennifer Simmons - 550813

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