An employee in Texas may have to undergo drug screening for certain jobs such as automotive and health care positions, vehicle accidents or probation purposes. Sometimes, a drug test gives positive results through no fault of the employee. False positives can be caused by several factors.
Reasons for drug testing
In most cases, a drug test will not be issued after a vehicle accident. However, a person may receive a drug test when law enforcement suspects that drug usage contributed to the accident. Some states make drug testing a requirement in fatal crashes. However, law enforcement needs a reasonable cause to conduct a drug test as well as a warrant to search for drugs.
An employer commonly prescreens potential employees for illicit drug usage when the workplace has a zero-tolerance policy. The reasoning is that an employee with a drug habit tends to have higher rates of absenteeism. Illicit drug usage could also impair an employee’s judgement where the jobs require careful attention to safety.
Causes of false positives
Some over-the-counter medications cause false positives, such as anti-depressants, allergy medication, antibiotics, antipsychotic drugs, cough suppressants and pain relievers. The appetite-suppressing drug phentermine, which has been used for weight loss, has caused false positives as well. It has similar properties to amphetamines used to treat ADHD, but it may raise suspicions about illicit use if a person doesn’t medically need it.
Certain foods such as poppy seeds commonly trigger false positives because they contain compounds of morphine and codeine naturally. Simple mouthwashes or anything used to remove bad breath could appear as a positive result because of the ethanol.
Around 15% of drug tests get a false positive, but positive drug tests can have serious consequences such as job loss or jail time. A criminal law attorney may be able to help a person challenge the results of a drug test.