If you are placed on probation for a DUI arrest in Washington state, one of the conditions is often not to consume alcohol. Probation and your alcohol treatment provider are given great latitude in enforcing that order, and most do so by requiring urinalysis (UA) tests.
Most people believe that they can pass a urinalysis if they have not been consuming alcohol recently. That used to be true but many treatment providers and probation officers are now utilizing Ethylglucuronide (“EtG”) Urine tests. EtG urine testing detects alcohol metabolites in your urine. Depending on the type of screening that is performed some studies suggest that an EtG test can detect alcohol metabolites in your urine as far back as 80 hours from the time the alcohol entered your system.
The problem with EtG testing is that it only detects the presence of alcohol metabolites in you urine. The presence of those metabolites in your urine does not mean that you have consumed an alcoholic beverage, however. Alcohol metabolites can find their way into your urine if you consume any product that contains alcohol. A recent study revealed that alcohol metabolites can even make their way into your urine if you are around and inhale alcohol based products. In that case, the product was alcohol based hand cleaning gel. Unfortunately, the quantity of metabolites in your system does not necessarily correlate to the quantity of alcohol that entered your system. Instead, the EtG test is designed to simply detect the presence or absence of metabolites. This makes it very difficult to discern between direct or incidental presence of alcohol. In other words, EtG testing suffers from many false positives.
As you might imagine, the courts and probation officers are very fond of EtG testing and, if there is a positive result, they will assume that it means you were consuming an alcoholic beverage an not that it is a false positive. Obviously, you don’t want to be on the receiving end of a false positive test, so if you are on probation for a DUI it is very important that you be aware of the ingredients in the foods and medicines that you consume and that you avoid direct or indirect contact with alcohol based products if at all possible. And if you do receive a positive EtG UA, speak with an attorney immediately. There is much we can do to help.