William Long Whitesell, L.L.C.

Can a drug test be wrong?

You had to take a drug test and it came back positive. Is that simply the end of the road, a perfect way to prove that someone was using illegal drugs? Or can the test be wrong? If you're facing charges, you're naturally going to wonder just how solid that evidence really is.

While drug tests can be useful and many people treat them as if they are an exact science, the reality is that tests can be wrong and they are frequently. There are many things that can trigger a false positive. This is even true of urine tests, one of the most common types of tests on the market today.

The first question to ask is what type of test you actually took. Tests in labs have higher success rates than POC -- point-of-care -- tests. These are often used at medical care centers, and they utilize immunoassay testing strips.

In one study, these POC tests came up with the following results:

  • 21 percent false positives for marijuana.
  • 21 percent false negatives for marijuana.
  • 41 percent false positives for oxycodone.
  • 31 percent false negatives for oxycodone.
  • 22 percent false positives of opiates.
  • 45 percent false positives for methadone.
  • 21 percent false positives for barbiturates.
  • 21 percent false positives for amphetamines.
  • 12 percent false positives for cocaine.
  • 99 percent false positives for methamphetamine.

As you can see, these tests are anything but reliable. While lab tests are typically better, they are not immune to false positives, either. If you are facing charges, it is important for you to know all of your legal options.

Source: Pain News Network, "Urine Drug Test Often Gives False Results," Pat Anson, accessed Feb. 28, 2018

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