While public opinion on drug usage has changed over time, our legal system has remained true to its inquisitorial nature. In cases involving children, if there’s any suspicion that a parent is abusing drugs, the court may order a hair test before making any decisions about the parent’s visitation rights. 

In many instances, you could benefit significantly from the results of a hair drug test. The court may consider the results of the test in matters involving child custody, access agreements, or care proceedings.

When one parent accuses the other of substance use during a custody battle, an attorney may order a hair test from Lextox or other accredited testing laboratories to determine the truth of the claim. A hair drug test may be employed in situations where DNA proof is needed, such as domestic abuse or paternity disputes.

What Is Hair Drug Testing?

Evidence of drug use or abuse can be found in a hair sample collected close to the scalp. The overuse of legal substances like alcohol and tobacco can be detected through a drug test, in addition to the use of illegal narcotics.

A snip of hair is taken to conduct a drug test on the hair strands. Hair drug testing has advantages over other drug detection methods, including a longer detection window and the capacity to infer drug usage trends over time.

The history of a person’s exposure to drugs, whether chronic or occasional, can be gleaned by hair drug testing. For instance, experts can provide a profile of drug use for the last three months. For longer hair samples, it may be possible to infer drug use for as long as 12 months. 

How Does Hair Drug Testing Work?

Drugs injected into one’s body enter the bloodstream. These drugs reach the hair follicles because they contain blood vessels that supply nutrients for hair growth. As the hair grows, trace amounts of drugs can be detected in the hair shaft. Therefore, when a hair sample is collected from the scalp near the hair’s root and analyzed, experts are able to identify drug use. 

What Is The Procedure For Collecting Hair Samples?

The procedure for hair sample collection is relatively straightforward. However, the collection should be done by trained sample collectors for test results to be legally defensible in court.

It’s important to note that hair drug testing requires about 90 to 120 strands. Hair should be collected from several places around a person’s head, not from brushes or hats. An adequate hair sample is needed for the analysis to detect drug use reliably. 

For What Drugs Are Hair Samples Typically Tested?

The following drugs can be detected by a hair drug test:

  • Cocaine
  • Marijuana
  • Opiates
  • Methamphetamine
  • Ecstasy
  • Phencyclidine (PCP) 

In What Cases Can Hair Drug Testing Be Used?

Because of its composition, hair tissue can be used to test for drug presence over a period of weeks to months. In contrast, blood and urine testing can only provide evidence of drugs taken recently to still in the user’s system. 

For this reason, hair drug testing is becoming increasingly common in family law matters, especially in care hearings where parental drug usage is a concern. Results from a hair drug test may be used in conjunction with other evidence and circumstances. 

The four most common testing scenarios are as follows:

  • Death Caused By Drugs

The use of drugs can be linked to death, and hair testing can prove whether or not this is the case. Hair testing can be performed in situations of poisoning and establishing abstinence in the months before death. It can also help estimate tolerance levels to a drug that may cause death.

  • Legal Issues Regarding Child Custody

Babies and children can be at risk when their mothers take drugs or drink alcohol during pregnancy or when they nurse. There are also health risks when they’re subjected to secondhand smoke or come into contact with drug residue or the sweat of people who are high on drugs.

If the baby’s hair has not been cut since birth, it can be tested to determine if the mother used drugs while pregnant. If drugs are found in the hair’s distal region, this indicates drug use during pregnancy, while drug detection in other areas of the hair suggests postnatal exposure.

  • Violence Facilitated By Drugs

Hair testing can indicate guilt in cases where the victim was given drugs that induced forgetfulness or sleepiness, even if the crime was reported weeks or months later. Also, medications like gamma hydroxybutyrate (GHB), often involved in cases of sexual assault assisted by drugs, can be detected using this method. 

It’s important to remember that hair testing can prove causality between an occurrence and a substance. However, it’s impossible to establish exactly when a chemical was used. Consequently, hair testing evidence in cases of drug-facilitated crime is indicative rather than conclusive.

  • Drug Substitution Therapy

It’s reasonable to employ hair analysis to assess whether or not a patient adheres to the guidelines of drug substitution therapy. Hair drug testing can help determine if a person undergoing treatment continues to use drugs despite the best efforts of their doctors.

Petitioning The Court For A Hair Drug Test

In private law cases of domestic abuse involving divorced or separated parents, the lawyer of the parent with custody of the children would ask for a hair test. The accused person’s lawyer would schedule the drug test when there’s an allegation of substance misuse. For example, if a mother claims the father is a drug addict, the father’s lawyer would likely request a drug test.

Hair drug test results are not admissible in public law cases without the judge’s approval. Once a judge has given permission for a hair test, the appropriate local authorities must submit a request to the lab for the test. Lawyers or local authorities engaged in the case usually are responsible for requesting the test.

Producing Admissible Evidence Based On The Findings

When presented in court, the results of a hair test can be very persuasive evidence. There are many differences between private and public law matters, but one constant is that the results of a hair test can only be used as evidence if they’re allowed by the court.

Therefore, even if the disputing parents agreed to have a hair test, the test results could only be used in court if the judge approved it, as private law matters require the judge’s approval.

In Summary

Private and public law cases differ when it comes to setting up the hair test, such as who requests it and who pays for it. However, in both criminal and civil actions, the results of a hair test require the court’s approval before they may be used as evidence.

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