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

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

By Stephanie Kral | February 3, 2024

The military maintains a strict “zero tolerance” policy towards drug use among its members, encompassing both the Active Component and the Reserves. This policy is rooted in the expectation that service members, trusted with the nation’s security, should refrain from engaging in any illegal activities, including the misuse of drugs. This encompasses the prohibition against using prescription drugs that have not been prescribed to the individual or using prescribed drugs in a manner not directed by a physician. As a consequence, service members are routinely subjected to drug tests, often in the form of urinalysis, to verify their compliance with this directive.

Given this stringent policy, there’s a widespread belief among service members that a positive result on a drug test could lead to severe repercussions for their careers, potentially resulting in disciplinary actions such as a court-martial, non-judicial punishment under Article 15, or even administrative separation from the service. However, it’s crucial for service members who test positive to understand that there are avenues available for them to advocate for themselves. Knowing how to navigate these situations effectively can sometimes mean the difference between an adverse separation and the continuation of their military career.

How to Contest a Failed Drug Test in the Military

At the Military Entry Processing Station (MEPS), individuals aspiring to join the military who fail a drug test are typically given a chance to retest approximately 90 days after their initial failure. It’s crucial to note, though, that a subsequent failure on this test disqualifies an individual from entering any branch of the military service permanently.

For those already serving as active-duty members or reservists, the policy is far stricter, with no opportunity to retake a failed drug test. A positive result on a drug test is taken as conclusive evidence of the intentional use of a prohibited substance. The specific substance detected plays a critical role in determining the severity and nature of the disciplinary measures that may follow. These measures can range significantly, influenced by the type and circumstances of the detected substance use.

During the initial stages following a positive test result, service members might find themselves navigating the process without the benefit of assigned military defense counsel, such as a Judge Advocate. This lack of early legal guidance can be detrimental, as the consequences of a positive drug test are severe and can drastically alter the course of a service member’s career and life.

Kral Military Defense emphasizes the importance of understanding your rights and the procedures that follow a positive drug test within the military. Early legal intervention can provide crucial guidance and advocacy, potentially mitigating the consequences or navigating through the complexities of military law effectively.

Navigating the Repercussions of a Failed Drug Test in the Military

Facing a positive drug test within the military does not automatically signify the termination of one’s career despite the strict enforcement of the “zero tolerance” policy. This policy dictates the thorough processing of drug test findings rather than direct separation from service. Service members have several strategies at their disposal to challenge the legitimacy of positive drug test outcomes. Challenges can be made against the process involved in the collection, handling, and analysis of the sample. Due to the complex nature of these procedures and the scientific basis of the testing, errors such as sample mislabeling or improper handling can occur, potentially compromising the integrity of the results. There have been instances where laboratories tasked with analyzing these samples were shut down following repeated incidents of false positive results.

Service members can also dispute a positive drug test by arguing that the drug was ingested unknowingly. With the widespread legalization and decriminalization of marijuana across many states, the chance of accidentally consuming products containing THC or marijuana, like gummies or vape pens, has increased. This argument gains weight particularly for products that are not approved by the FDA. In such cases, the responsibility shifts to the service member to challenge the government’s assertion, requiring them to prove that the ingestion of an illegal substance was done knowingly. This approach not only questions the basis of the accusation but also highlights the complex legal landscape surrounding drug policy enforcement within the military.

Let Our Team of Military Defense Lawyers Fight Back for You

In the military, where the stakes of a positive drug test can threaten your career and future, understanding your defense options is critical. The implications of an unfavorable discharge characterization extend far beyond the military, affecting benefits, employment opportunities, and more. Kral Military Defense stands at the forefront of defending service members in these high-stakes situations, offering expert legal counsel and strategic advocacy.

Our team at Kral Military Defense delves deep into the complexities of military drug testing procedures to protect and defend our clients. By meticulously analyzing every step of the sample collection and testing process, we identify and challenge any procedural discrepancies or errors that could compromise the validity of the test results. Our expertise allows us to effectively contest issues such as sample contamination, mislabeling, and the integrity of the testing facility itself.

Understanding the modern landscape of legal and decriminalized substances, we also provide robust defenses against claims of intentional drug use. The risk of unwittingly consuming THC through unregulated products is a reality in today’s society. Our military defense lawyers are skilled in presenting compelling arguments for unintentional ingestion, emphasizing the need for the prosecution to prove intentional consumption of an illegal substance.

Choosing Kral Military Defense means aligning with a dedicated ally who will navigate the legal challenges of a failed drug test with you. Our goal is to ensure that every service member we represent receives a defense that not only contests the charges but also highlights the need for a fair and equitable evaluation of their case.

If you’re facing the daunting challenge of a positive drug test result in the military, don’t navigate this critical moment alone. Reach out to Kral Military Defense for a consultation. Our commitment to your defense is not just about challenging a test result; it’s about safeguarding your career, your reputation, and your future. Contact us today to learn more about how we can stand by your side and fight for the justice you deserve.