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Sep. 27 2019

If You Fail a Drug Test at Work, Can You Be Charged in Illinois?

Posted By: Sami Azhari

If You Fail a Drug Test at Work, Can You Be Charged in Illinois?

Maybe you found the perfect position, aced the interview, and now the only thing standing between you and the job you’re after…is a drug test result. Or perhaps you’ve been selected for a random drug screening at your workplace. Or you’re on probation or parole, and testing is just part of the routine.

No matter the scenario – even when there’s no possible way you can fail – your nerves may be shot. Waiting is the hardest part. One question that seems to cross every client’s racing mind:

If I do fail, what will happen? Could my test results be used as evidence against me? Illicit substances in my system – isn’t that a crime? Not always.

A Positive Result for Pre-Employment Drug Screening in Illinois

Although every business is free to set its own substance testing guidelines (many industries no longer institute pre-employment drug screenings at all), there are a number of fields that still require them.

Those who choose to screen for drug use prior to hiring tend to follow the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s guidelines. This helps companies avoid becoming subject to lawsuits.

In most cases, if your employee drug test results are positive, you can count on being denied a position. However, your results likely won’t go any further than their HR department.

This typically means no criminal consequences or record…which also means nothing will be reflected in future background checks.

Illinois Employers Imposing Periodic Drug Tests – Random or Otherwise

Factors affecting the consequences you may face upon failing a drug test imposed by your current employer vary. The reason for testing, your specific job duties, and how long you’ve worked there are all common considerations when your HR department is deciding how to move forward.

Unfortunately, a positive drug test usually results in being terminated. Societal views of substance abuse and addiction continue to shift, however, and we see other options surfacing more often.

Some employers elect to provide services and assistance geared toward recovery, and they may offer you a second-chance test after a certain period in exchange for your agreement to participate in these types of programs.

Again, in most job scenarios your failed test results go no further than company record. There are some employers, though, who are legally obligated to report your results to outside agencies (unemployment offices, for instance).

Failing a Drug Screening While on Probation or Parole in Illinois

Failing a mandatory drug test is both a parole and probation violation, and is not the same as a positive result from an employer’s drug screening. When you are unable to meet any conditions – including this one – of a court-ordered program, you are subject to a number of consequences such as:

  • You may get off with a warning if it’s your first (and only) offense. If the test is issued after getting caught committing a drug crime, though, you may be sent to prison.
  • Beyond the first failed screening, your parole officer may issue a stint of community service, in an attempt to offer rehabilitation instead of further criminal consequences.
  • When a probation officer believes it could help, they may order counseling services in an effort to identify underlying causes of substance abuse.
  • Ultimately, if you haven’t proven yourself to your parole officer, they have wide discretion to apply additional fines and/or jail time.

Generally speaking, once you’ve received a warning, your best option is to refrain from all other substance use. The next step is likely facing legal consequences for another failed test.

Chicago Drug Attorney

So now you know, in most cases, the sweeping answer is “no, you won’t face legal repercussions for failing an employer’s drug test.” However, you are likely to face unwanted consequences with the employer, and if you’re on probation or parole, all bets are off.

Consult a Chicago Drug Crimes Defense Attorney Today for Expert Guidance

If you are currently facing legal consequences for failing a drug test, reach out to an experienced Chicago defense attorney for guidance. The right advice can help you navigate the system to minimize the impact of these kinds of charges.

About the Author

Sami Azhari has been working as a lawyer since 2007, after receiving his Juris Doctor from the Michigan State University College of Law. He has handled numerous state and federal cases, and is known throughout the Chicago and Rolling Meadows area for providing his clients with high-quality, skilled representation. He has been recognized by SuperLawyers, the National Trial Lawyers Association, and other notable organizations, and has spoken at a number of legal conferences.