What To Expect From A Court-Ordered Urine Test

There are a variety of reasons for court-ordered drug testing.  One of the most common is as a condition of probation for drug-related offenses. Testing may also be required in divorce or child custody cases, or where a child protective service agency is concerned about the safety of a minor child.

When court-ordered drug testing is instituted, the judge will dictate the frequency and duration of the testing. Testing may be scheduled or random, but most often is a combination of both.

Related: Order a urine test

Types of Drugs Most Often Tested For

The specific drugs being tested for are dependent on the offender and the jurisdiction; drug testing centers can customize the groups of drugs or “panels” for which the individual is being screened. In the vast majority of the court-ordered drug testing we see, five-panel tests are the most requested. The five most common panels in the case of probationary testing are:

  • Amphetamines (including methamphetamines and ecstasy)
  • Cocaine
  • Opiates (including codeine, morphine, and heroin),
  • PCP
  • Marijuana

Detection of Drugs in your System

The test does not actually measure the presence of these drugs in the urine, but rather the metabolites of the drugs which are the products excreted by the body after drugs are metabolized. All of these drugs can be almost immediately detected after use. However, the length of time they can be detected in your urine will vary, as discussed below.

Amphetamines & Methamphetamines

Amphetamines are detectable in urine as soon as 2 to 5 hours after use and up to 2 to 5 days, though factors such as age, body weight, kidney and liver function and frequency of use can impact this time period. For methamphetamines, one use is detectable in urine within 6 to 12 hours of use and can be detected for 2 to 3 days.


Cocaine and its metabolite benzoylecgonine are detectable in urine for 2 to 5 days after a single-use.  Binge usage or heavy, repeated ingestion will result in a positive urine test result for up to 12 days and as long as 3 weeks. That time period is even longer with chronic use.

Chronic use of cocaine results in the storage of the drug’s metabolites in the fatty tissues of the body, including the liver.  However, these metabolites don’t remain stored. They are continuously released into the bloodstream even after the individual stops using the drug.  Former chronic users of cocaine can test positive for up to 6 months.

The timeline for cocaine excretion can be further complicated by the coinciding use of alcohol. Not only is it dangerous to combine alcohol and cocaine due to the highly toxic effects on the body, but the resulting metabolite, cocaethylene, that is formed in the liver with concomitant use stays in the body longer than cocaine alone. This means that drinking alcohol combined with ingesting cocaine will further extend the time that a urine test will show positive drug use.


Opiates can be found in urine for a range of time depending on the type of opiate, as well as the mitigating factors of age, body weight, kidney and liver function and frequency of use. Codeine clears the urine the most quickly and is typically detectable for 24 to 48 hours.  Morphine use will be apparent for up to 3 days and heroin for 2 to 7 days.


PCP can be detected in urine for up to 14 days after use and as long as 4 weeks in heavy users. The concomitant use of antidepressants or sleep medications such as Ambien can increase this time period. While there are several way to insert PCP into your system, none of them will make the drug disappear from your system faster than others.


Marijuana is detectable for varying lengths of time as well.  Approximately 15 – 20% of the THC ingested will be eliminated as the metabolite Tetrahydrocannabinol. This means the more potent the marijuana, or the larger the amount ingested, the longer the metabolite will be present in the urine.  A single-use will be detectable for about 5 to 8 days, while habitual use will create a positive urine test for around 50 to 65 days.  Daily use of marijuana could be detectable for up to 77 days.

The only way to be absolutely certain of passing a drug test is to abstain from usage.

What is the Procedure for Court-Ordered Drug Testing?

An individual who is mandated for court-ordered urine drug testing or probation drug testing will be provided with information as to frequency and duration of testing.  A quick call to National Drug Screening at 866-843-4545 will help the individual set up the testing at a local testing center convenient to them. The system to determine when the individual will be notified of a required testing day will also be discussed.

When necessary, National Drug Screening can set up the random drug testing schedule. Once notified of required testing, the individual must report to the designated facility at the specified time. A urine sample will be collected and sent to a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) certified laboratory for testing. The laboratory data is then reviewed by an experienced medical review officer (MRO) who evaluates the data and makes a determination as to whether the results are positive or negative.  The results are then reported to the court and the individual being tested.

Court-Ordered Drug Testing When Traveling

Don’t worry about vacation and travel plans.  National Drug Screening can assist with finding drug testing centers in all areas of the United States and tests can be ordered online or by calling 866-843-4545.

What Happens When You Fail a Drug Test?

Failure of a court-ordered drug test can have serious consequences. In the case of probation, it can mean the suspension of the terms of probation, and the individual can be sent to jail.

Likewise, failure to report for the test can result in penalties including jail where drug offenses are involved.

Learn more about court-ordered drug testing from National Drug Screening.

What To Expect From A Court-Ordered Urine Test
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