My Law Life

by Scott Ealy (Effingham, Illinois, USA)

Embracing The Drug Test





Nothing causes more fear and consternation in our local legal system than . . . court-ordered drug testing.

It catches some people off guard.  But, it shouldn’t.


Perhaps a new approach is needed.


Drug testing is an opportunity to prove himself / herself for the person who may have made mistakes.

It can help a defendant establish a track record of compliance with the law, bolstering that person’s status during plea negotiations or at a possible sentencing hearing.  Drug test results are not opinion but fact.

[As a defense attorney, I am well aware of the possibility of false “positive” test results.  But, most of our clients are behind the 8-ball (no pun intended) already, and additional review is usually available].


Frankly, there’s no stronger evidence than consistently clean test results to assist the Court in making the following necessary findings “in mitigation” with regard to nearly any charged offense:


8.  The defendant’s criminal conduct was the result of circumstances unlikely to recur.

9.  The character and attitudes of the defendant indicate that he is unlikely to commit another crime.

10.  The defendant is particularly likely to comply with the terms of a period of probation.



A person who cannot comply with court-ordered drug testing should face the facts and seek help.


Although initially it may seem like punishment, in reality drug testing is supposedly there to help.

So, why not be bold and encourage clients to request random testing — up front — in any case in which an allegation involves the use of narcotics?



Few people have done more to help steer our people away from illicit drug use than our daily court Judge in Effingham County, the Honorable Sherri L.E. Tungate.

“It helped me to see what a jerk I was becoming,” one of my clients said recently about the testing program that Judge Tungate had ordered in his case.

“My friends say I’m different now.  I was wasting lots of time and risking my job with (cannabis use).  I am different now.  Better.  I’m back to being myself.”



So, the next time a Judge orders – or offers – even the possibility of drug testing, here’s my legally recommended response:






Scott Ealy



Written by scottealy

July 13, 2010 at 5:23 am

Posted in Embracing The Drug Test

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