BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La.
FACT SHEET ON URINALYSIS TESTING
The following information is provided to our clients who have submitted a urine specimen for drug urinalysis testing. Read this information very carefully - it is intended to familiarize you with the circumstances under which a urine sample may be collected; the basic collection, security, testing, and quality control procedures used by the Air Force drug urinalysis program; and the possible disciplinary consequences of a positive urinalysis. After reading the handout, you should understand how the Air Force Drug Testing Laboratory tests urine samples for evidence of illegal drug use, and how the results of its testing are ensured to be correct. This handout is not intended to be comprehensive, but merely a starting point for your understanding. We strongly encourage you to ask either your defense counsel or the defense paralegal any questions you might have about the information in this handout, or about anything related to your case and our representation.
1. Legal Basis and Use. Military members may be required to provide urine samples in 6 situations:
a. A random inspection. There are two main types of testing by random inspection.
(1) A "sweep" usually involves testing an entire shift or section. Such an inspection is lawful as long as your commander's primary purpose is to determine the fitness for duty of squadron members, and is not targeting specific individuals suspected of illegal drug use.
(2) The second type of random inspection occurs when your name is picked from a computer list at MPF. Usually, names are picked base-wide each month based on two positions and digits in your social security number. If your name is chosen, you are notified by your orderly room that you must report to the collections point within a few hours to provide a sample.
Either type of random test may be used in a proceeding under the UCMJ. Usually, this means if you came up positive as a result of a random inspection test, you will get an Article 15 for marijuana, or a court-martial for cocaine.
b. A probable cause search. Here, your commander or law enforcement authorities must have reasonable grounds to believe that if your urine is tested, evidence of illegal drug use will be found. An anonymous tip alone is not normally sufficient to establish probable cause without other evidence. But smoke in a car that smells like marijuana, or a joint in an ashtray, may be sufficient. The result in a probable cause search, just like a random inspection, may be used to support a UCMJ action such as an Article 15 or a court-martial.
c. A command-directed test. A command-directed test may be conducted when there is a reasonable suspicion of drug abuse, but not enough basis for a probable search. Commanders usually order urine testing in cases of aberrant, bizarre, or unlawful behavior, including DWI, violations of safety regulations, or other incidents. Results obtained from a command-directed test may not be used against you in any action under the UCMJ, nor may the results be used on the basis for a letter of reprimand, followed by an administrative discharge, which will be an Honorable discharge.
d. Routine or Emergency medical treatment. Urine specimens given for medical purposes may also be tested for drug use. This includes periodic medical exams. The results of these medical tests may be used for Article 15 or court-martial.
e. A drug abuse treatment program. A test may be ordered at the direction of rehabilitation personnel. If the results are positive while you are in the program, those results are treated the same as a command-directed test - that is, the results may not be used against you criminally, but you will be administratively separated from the Air Force with an Honorable discharge.
f. Consent. The only other situation where a urinalysis specimen may be obtained is when a military member voluntarily consents to provide a urine sample.
You have the right to refuse to consent to a urinalysis test. If your first shirt sergeant or law enforcement authorities ask you to consent, you do not have to say yes. In addition, you cannot be punished in any way if you refuse to consent. However, your commander may direct or order you to provide a sample anyway. If that happens, you must provide the sample or you will be disobeying a lawful order. Again, however, the results may not be used against you criminally (see above). That means you could not be court-martialed and you will not go to jail. You could be given an honorable discharge.
If your consent is truly voluntary, then the result can be used against you for Article 15 or court-martial. Your consent makes it easy for the government of the test comes back positive. If you felt intimidated by your commander, an OSI agent, or a Security Police investigator into giving consent, make sure you tell your lawyer. In some cases, depending on the circumstances, your consent may not have been legally voluntary.
2. Providing a Sample. You will have been tested for one of the above purposes. Many people express concern about whether the sample was collected with appropriate safeguard against tampering. The following outline of AFI 44-120 procedural requirements is provided for comparison. If any of the steps were left out, notify your lawyer. Most samples are collected in this manner:
a. You report to a lab technician at the lab, who looks at any letter or form you may have been given to take to the lab. The lab tech looks at your military ID and writes down identifying information in a ledger, including your name and social security number. You are asked to verify the information on the ledger by signing your name and on the label by initialing. Both the ledger and the label should contain the same specimen number, which is in this form F556X-XXX. This is called the Laboratory Accession Number, and it is unique to your sample.
b. The lab tech puts the label on a small, clear plastic bottle. Then an observer will be given the bottle and will accompany you to the restroom to actually watch you urinate. The lab tech may act as the observer, or a trained member of your squadron may do it. The observer must be of the same sex and must watch you urinate. Once sufficient volume is collected, and either you or the observer put the lid back on, you both return to the lab and observer initials the label and signs the ledger.
c. Now comes the crucial part. The lab tech places about six inches of orange-pink tamper-resistant tape over the lid of the bottle and down the sides. If this is done, it is very difficult later to claim tampering. The bottle cannot be opened without the tape being broken. This should be done in your presence. Once this is complete, you may leave. If you have any questions, ask them. You should try to see where the lab tech left your bottle before you depart.
d. Your sample cannot be tested unless it contains at least 60 milliliters of urine (about 2/3 of a bottle). If you could not produce that much, your specimen will be discarded, and you will have to wait there until you can produce enough.
3. Chain of Custody. This term refers to procedures used to ensure it is your sample that is eventually tested, and that your sample has not been tampered with. The above collection procedures are part of the chain of custody. After you leave the lab, your specimen is controlled by keeping a record on a form as to where it is, and by locking it in a secure cabinet in the lab. Only lab personnel will have access to the cabinet, and of course, your bottle cannot be opened without breaking the tamper-resistant tape. Within a few days, your sample is placed in a sealed shipment box with other samples, and mailed to the Air Force Drug Testing Laboratory (AFDTL) at Brooks AFB, Texas. Forms are filled out to show who mailed your sample, when, and whether it was intact when it left.
4. At AFDTL. The drug testing lab at Brooks AFB (AFDTL), receives specimens from all Air Force installations in the United States. The boxes are immediately inspected for any signs of tampering or damage during shipment, and the specimen bottles themselves are also immediately inspected for possible tampering. They will not be tested if the tamper-resistant tape is broken. Specimens are normally processed in five days, although testing can occur much later than that and still be valid. All samples are tested three separate times by two different kinds of tests. Only samples which test positive at concentrations above a designed "cutoff" level on all three tests are reported as positive.
5. Aliquots. An aliquot is a portion of your original urine sample which is drawn from the specimen bottle. It is important to understand that when tests are performed on your urine, only a portion, or aliquot, is tested each time. Your original bottle stays permanently in one very secure room at the lab. When portions are needed for various tests, a small amount is taken from the bottle into a test tube. This aliquot is then tested elsewhere inside the lab. This makes it easier for the government to prove your bottle has not been tampered with. Your bottle is not moving around all over the place and is only accessible to authorized personnel in the secure storage room.
6. Testing Procedures. Urinalysis testing is a scientifically precise and accurate method to detect the presence of drug metabolite in your urine. When you smoke, eat, or otherwise ingest drugs, your liver converts the substance to metabolites, which end up in your urine. Marijuana and cocaine produce very specific metabolites which are not produced by any other substances you may ingest. Minute quantities of metabolites, measured in nanograms, or billionths of a gram, can be detected in urine using radioimmunoassay (RIA) and gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) testing. To be reported positive, a specimen must contain at least 100 nanograms as detected by the RIA test, and then at least 15 nanograms by the GC/MS test. The Department of Defense established these cutoff levels to prevent a positive reading from some cause other than wrongful use (such as passive inhalation). Although you can get a few nanograms of marijuana metabolite into your urine by smelling or breathing someone else's marijuana smoke, you cannot get enough to reach the DOD cutoff levels that way.
a. RIA. This is a screening test which consists of adding radioactive substances called antigens and antibody reagents to urine. The antigen competes with the target drug, if present, for the antibody. The mixture is centrifuged and then the radioactivity levels are measured. Recent studies have shown that the RIA tests used by the Air Force is highly specific and very accurate. Even so, RIA is only used on the first two tests, as a screen and an initial confirmation test.
b. GC/MS. This is the state-of-the-art test for drugs. It is used worldwide by all crime labs to detect all sorts of substances, including drugs. Chemical procedures are used to extract the target drug from the urine, and then the extract is injected into a long tube. It is carried down the tube by an inert gas which separates the drug molecules from any substances. At the end of the tube, the molecules are ionized by an electron stream, and the ions are measured by a sensitive device. The ions must occur in certain patterns and with certain molecular weights before the analyst can conclude a certain drug is present. This method is extremely accurate and can measure drugs at the 1-2 nanogram level.
7. Quality Control. The performance of the AFDTL is guaranteed by an extensive system of quality controls, which ensure the lab never reports a "false positive."
a. The lab itself includes internal Blind Quality Control (BQC) specimens in every batch it tests, and only a quality control monitor knows which ones they are. The results of the tests of those samples must be accurate, or the whole batch of 200 specimens will be discarded.
b. The lab is also rigorously monitored by the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (AFIP), which sends blind (unknown) samples and known samples through various Air Force bases to the AFDTL for testing. Only AFIP knows what the results should be. The labs do not know which are the AFIP samples. AFIP issues reports on a regular basis as to how the labs are doing. These quality control checks also look at administrative aspects of the chain of custody.
8. Accuracy of the Test. Disregard anything you heard about the lab several years ago. There has been great improvement since then. There have been no report of false positive results in the last five years, of the millions of samples tested. AFDTL lab results now routinely stand up in court. In fact, it has become extremely difficult to defend against a positive result.
9. What can you do? If you feel strongly that the urinalysis is in error, you have several options. You can request a polygraph through the OSI or take one downtown (see our separate handout about polygraph examinations). You can request that the sample be retested at a private lab at your own expense. Or you can seek to obtain all the documentation in your case, including test results and chain of custody forms, and have your lawyer review them, or send them to one of several independent experts at your own expense for their review. If your case is going to court or an administrative discharge board, your lawyer can usually obtain these documents for examination.
10. Potential Punishments. If the results of your test can be used against you in a UCMJ proceeding that is, if it was obtained as a result of a random test, a probable cause search, a medical exam, or your voluntary consent - then you will either be given an Article 15 and be administratively discharged or you will be court-martialed. Cases involving marijuana only normally result in Special Courts-Martial, where the maximum punishment authorized is a Bad Conduct Discharge (BCD), 6 months confinement, forfeiture of two-thirds pay and allowances for 6 months, and reduction to E-1. Other cased, involving cocaine and other drugs, or which involves possession or distribution of larger quantities of drugs, usually go to a General Court-Martial, where a Dishonorable Discharge and at least several years of confinement is authorized for each drug offense.
What is the cutoff for military urinalysis? ›
The detection window for the metabolite of THC can be anywhere from a day or two to up to weeks, depending on various factors including how often the person ingested marijuana, i.e. chronic use. The DoD cut-off for THC is 15 ng/mL.What are 3 things that can be tested in a urinalysis to look for abnormalities? ›
A urinalysis involves checking the appearance, concentration and content of urine. For example, a urinary tract infection can make urine look cloudy instead of clear. Increased levels of protein in urine can be a sign of kidney disease.How long does it take to get military urinalysis results? ›
There is never a definite answer for how long military drug test results take. Generally though, if the drug test results are negative, it will often take somewhere between 1 to 3 days to come back. If the results are positive, it may take a bit longer, often 3-5 days from the time the sample arrived at the lab.How do you get a good urinalysis result? ›
- Before the test, don't eat foods that can change the colour of your urine. Examples of these include blackberries, beets, and rhubarb.
- Don't do heavy exercise before the test.
- Tell your doctor ALL the medicines and natural health products you take.
Generally speaking, applicants to the military are able to retake a failed drug test when at a Military Entry Processing Station (MEPS). Depending on the branch of service, recruits who test positive for drugs may be able to reapply 90 days after their previous test.What happens if you test positive for a drug test in the Army? ›
A positive test result will likely result in significant administrative or disciplinary action against a military member, to include court-martial. Essentially all branches of the military have adopted a “Zero Tolerance” approach to drug use.What diseases at least 5 can be diagnosed by urinalysis? ›
- Urine Test To Detect Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
- Urine Test For Kidney Function.
- Test For Cancer Screening and Diagnosis.
- Test for cause of High Blood Pressure.
- Test for Sexually Transmitted Diseases.
Bladder cancer is perhaps the most obvious cancer to find in urine, but evidence suggests that remnants of other cancers – like kidney, prostate and cervical cancer – can also get into pee.What are 5 things that a urologist can use a urinalysis test for? ›
A urinalysis is used: To diagnose things like a urinary tract infection, kidney disease, kidney stones, diabetes or pregnancy. Before an operation to screen for problems.What happens if you fail a urinalysis in the army? ›
Failing a military drug test may result in severe consequences for your military career. This could include termination, judicial or nonjudicial punishments, and many other administrative actions.
How long does it take to find out if you failed a military drug test? ›
The results for negative specimens are typically released within 3 business days and positive results are typically released within five business days from when they are accessioned at the laboratory.What kind of discharge is a failing drug test? ›
The maximum consequences of failing a drug test in the military have resulted in a dishonorable discharge. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, active-duty military members can face not only a dishonorable discharge but also criminal prosecution in some cases for a positive drug test.Can I drink a lot of water before urinalysis? ›
Preparing for urinalysis
Before your test, make sure to drink plenty of water so you can give an adequate urine sample. However, drinking excessive amounts of water may cause inaccurate results. One or two extra glasses of fluid, which can include juice or milk if your diet allows, is all you need the day of the test.
- Avoid alcohol, coffee, tea, tobacco and strenuous exercise for 24 hours prior to collection and up to collection time. - Do not consume avocados, bananas, eggplant, pineapples, plums, tomatoes or walnuts for 48 hours before the test.Is first morning urine OK for urinalysis? ›
First Morning Urine
You can wait until you get up for the day. For women who work night shift, your first morning urine will be the urine you void after you slept during the day.
Can You Still Get Hired If You Fail a Drug Test? For the most part, no. If the test result is proven to be legitimate (especially after multiple retests), you will most likely lose your job. If drug testing was part of a screening application, the company will probably revoke your job offer.How long does a positive drug test take to come back in the army? ›
Negative results are usually posted on the web portal for program managers within 1-3 day(s) from the time specimens are received at the lab. Positive results are usually posted on the portal within 3-5 days from the time specimens are received at the lab.How long does Delta 8 stay in your system? ›
So they can accumulate over time with regular use. Because their structures are similar, delta-8 is expected to stay in the body for the same amount of time as delta-9 THC. For occasional users, this could be as little as 2 to 5 days. For regular users, it could be up to 15 days.What do army urine tests detect? ›
All active duty military servicemembers submit a urine sample for drug testing at least once a year. These drug tests screen for the presence of marijuana, amphetamines, and cocaine. In some cases, the urinalysis will screen for the presence of other drugs, including steroids, morphine, heroin, barbiturates, and LSD.What happens if you fail a DOT drug test twice? ›
What Happens If You Fail A DOT Drug Test Twice? A driver that fails a DOT drug test twice would have to go through the whole Return To Duty process again. This is most common during one of the “follow up” tests.
Does the Army drug test everyone? ›
All personnel hired or assigned to the FTDTL, including contract personnel, will have a satisfactory background check, a negative pre-employment urinalysis drug test, and verification of education credentials and prior employment history.What are some examples of abnormal findings in a urinalysis? ›
- Red blood cells.
- White blood cells.
- Crystals (clumps of minerals, a possible sign of kidney stones)
A high urine pH may indicate conditions including kidney issues and a urinary tract infection (UTI). A low urine pH may indicate conditions including diabetes-related ketoacidosis and diarrhea. Ketones urine test: Ketones build up when your body has to break down fats and fatty acids to use as fuel for energy.Do all infections show up in urine tests? ›
If the bacteria are not floating around in the urine, they will not be passed into your sample on urination. If the bacteria are not in your sample, they will not be detected. There are other reasons your sample may not contain detectable levels of bacteria, including over-hydration.What does cancerous urine look like? ›
In most cases, blood in the urine (called hematuria) is the first sign of bladder cancer. There may be enough blood to change the color of the urine to orange, pink, or, less often, dark red.How do I know if I have a cancerous tumor from my pee? ›
Bladder cancer signs and symptoms may include: Blood in urine (hematuria), which may cause urine to appear bright red or cola colored, though sometimes the urine appears normal and blood is detected on a lab test. Frequent urination. Painful urination.Can urine test detect tumors? ›
Urine cytology: In this test, a microscope is used to look for cancer cells in urine. Urine cytology does find some cancers, but it's not reliable enough to make a good screening test. Urine tests for tumor markers: Newer tests look for certain substances in urine that might be a sign of bladder cancer.What indicates a UTI in a urinalysis? ›
Any amount of bacteria in the urine may suggest UTI in a symptomatic patient, but the threshold for the classic definition of bacteriuria is 5+, which is roughly equivalent to 100,000 colony-forming units (CFUs)/mL.
Your doctor may, for example, request a first morning sample because the urine is more concentrated and therefore it is more likely to show up any abnormalities. Or if the doctor is looking for glucose in the urine they may ask you to collect a sample after a meal.Can I drink coffee before a urine test? ›
If your doctor has ordered a test for metanephrine in your urine, you should avoid caffeine for 24 hours and during collection of your specimen.
What is a positive urinalysis? ›
We define a urinalysis as positive if it contains nitrites, leukocyte esterase, bacteria, or >10 white blood cells per high-power field. We define a urine culture as positive if it results in >100 000 colony-forming units of a single species (voided) or >100 colony-forming units of a single species (catheterized) .Can you fail a urinalysis? ›
Urine Drug Test
Urine tests can occasionally return false-positive drug test results. Eating certain foods that contain the chemical compounds used in prescription or illicit drugs can cause a person to fail a drug test. Eating poppy seeds, for example, can technically throw up a red flag for suspected opioid use.
All personnel will give a urine sample for testing annually; however, there is no set schedule for this. Personnel are selected at random by the Drug Testing Program once your UPL has input your unit's personnel roster.Why does it take so long for my drug test to come back? ›
The national staffing shortage has impacted turnaround times at each step in the drug testing process, starting from the point of specimen intake at the lab all the way to reporting the final results back to the requesting party. Currently, processing times are approximately 3 to 6 business days.What are the chances of failing a drug test? ›
How Often Do People Fail Drug Tests? In 2019, the percentage of US drug test failures reached 4.5%—the highest rate in 16 years.What makes a drug test false negative? ›
False-negatives can occur when the urine drug concentration is below the threshold level set by the laboratory performing the test. Dilute urine, the duration of time between ingestion of the drug and time of testing, and the quantity of the drug ingested may affect the occurrence of false-negatives.What happens if your drug test comes back negative? ›
If this screening test result is negative, the result is reported as negative dilute and no further testing is required. If this screening test result is positive for a substance, a confirmation test is performed for that specific substance. As such, positive dilute results are possible.What time of day is best for urinalysis? ›
You can collect a urine sample at any time of day, unless your GP or practice nurse advises you otherwise. The types of urine sample you might be asked for include a random specimen, first morning specimen or timed collection.Can dehydration affect urinalysis? ›
As dehydration increases, the concentration of yellow urochrome in urine increases as less water is being voided. This physiological response to dehydration results in both increased urine osmolality and yellow pigmentation of a sample, which supports the observed relationship between urine osmolality and b*.Can drinking too much water affect urinalysis? ›
Diluted urine occurs when there's too much water in the urine. It means the urine's concentration is weak. As a result, the tester will be unable to properly detect the presence of drugs in the urine.
Should I shower before a urine test? ›
Before urination, the external genitalia should be washed with warm running water. No cleaning products (soap etc) should be used. If women have vaginal discharge or menstrual blood, it is necessary to use a menstruation tampon.How long does it take for a urine test to come back from the lab? ›
Negative screening results are often released within 24 hours and non-negative screens are typically released within an additional 24 to 72 hours. Q: Can a urine drug test be beaten or adulterated? A: While it is the most common drug testing method, urine testing is not foolproof.How far back does a lab urine test go? ›
Drug testing specimen types
Illicit substances are detectable for only five to 10 days in urine; whereas, hair drug tests can detect drug or alcohol use for up to 90 days. Blood testing is very accurate, but costly and invasive. It does have a shorter detection period (minutes to hours), however.
Levels of hCG will be strongest with first morning urine — more concentrated urine guarantees a more accurate test. Your test will still be valid if it's the afternoon or you've already had water, but first morning urine will result in a stronger results line.Is second morning urine accurate? ›
The second morning urine (SMU) method developed by Kawasaki is reliable and convenient for estimating the daily salt intake. On the other hand, Tanaka have developed more convenient method named as casual urine (CU) method in which a urine sample can be collected during the daytime.Why is morning voided urine preferred in urinalysis? ›
The first voided morning specimen is particularly valuable because it is more concentrated and abnormalities are easier to detect. An early morning specimen is also relatively free of dietary influences and changes due to physical activity.What is a cut off level in drug testing? ›
What is a drug cut off level? The cut off concentration is a pre-set value that is used to compare the detected drug level of an individual sample to help to determine whether this individual has used a drug or not.What does Army urinalysis detect? ›
All active duty military servicemembers submit a urine sample for drug testing at least once a year. These drug tests screen for the presence of marijuana, amphetamines, and cocaine. In some cases, the urinalysis will screen for the presence of other drugs, including steroids, morphine, heroin, barbiturates, and LSD.How does the military test urine for drugs? ›
Lab technicians generally examine military drug test samples by gas chromatography and mass spectrometry. This process uses a dormant gas to carry the urine sample through columns to separate it. The sample breaks down by boiling point, as well as its tendency toward liquid or gas states.Are lab drug tests more sensitive? ›
What about accuracy? Lab-based drug tests are more accurate. We like to say they are more rigorous, more involved, and more defensible in a court of law, all of which are elements certain organizations must consider, particularly heavily regulated industries, like the DOT.
How far back does a 10 panel urine test go? ›
How Far Back Does A 10-panel Urine Test Go?
|Substance||Detection Time Frame|
|Barbiturates||24 hours to 3 weeks|
|Benzodiazepines||Up to six weeks for extended use|
Depending on your company's policy, failing a drug test could lead to disciplinary action or you being dismissed. If your company has a zero tolerance policy to drugs, just the positive test could be seen as 'gross misconduct' and you could be dismissed immediately or suspended while there is an investigation.Does Delta-8 show up on drug tests? ›
Delta-8 THC can show up on a regular drug test. Because it's chemically similar to delta-9 THC, it can cause a positive drug test for cannabis, even if you don't use “regular” cannabis products. If you know you'll be tested for cannabis, it's best to avoid delta-8 products altogether.Does Army urinalysis test for alcohol? ›
Statistically, the military screens about 60,000 urine samples per month at its multiple urinalysis testing laboratories. The Army – Leaves alcohol testing decisions up to a commander and prohibits a blood alcohol content (BAC) of . 05 percent or higher.How long does it take to find out about a failed Army drug test? ›
How Long Does It Take for the Unit to Receive Test Results? Negative results are usually posted on the web portal for program managers within 1-3 day(s) from the time specimens are received at the lab. Positive results are usually posted on the portal within 3-5 days from the time specimens are received at the lab.What drugs show up on military test? ›
Benzodiazepines Designer Amphetamines Opioids (Morphine / Codeine) Opioids (Heroin metabolite 6-monoacetylmorphine) Opioids (Oxycodone / Oxymorphone) Opioids (Hydrocodone / Hydromorphone) Opioids (Fentanyl / Norfentanyl) * Value given is for immunoassay cutoff: may be lower for mass-spectrometry-based screening.