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How the results of drug tests can be used legally, depends upon the reason for the urinalysis test.
- Random Testing. By regulation, each military member must be tested at least once per year. Reserve members must be tested at least once every two years. This is done by means of “random testing.” Basically, a commander can order that either all or a random-selected sample of his/her unit be tested, at any time. Results of random testing can be used in court-martials (Under Article 1128a of the Uniform Code of Military Justice), article 15s (nonjudicial punishment), and involuntary discharges. This includes using the results to determine service characterization (honorable, general, or other-than-honorable). Members do not have the right to refuse random testing. However, commanders cannot order specific individuals to take a “random” test. Those selected must be truly “random.”
- Medical Testing. This is testing which is accomplished in compliance with any medical requirements. Urinalysis tests given to new recruits falls under this category. As with Random Testing, results can be used in court-martials, article 15s, and involuntary discharges, to include service characterization. Members do not have a right to refuse medical testing in the military.
- Probable Cause. If a commander has probable cause that a person is under the influence of drugs, the commander can request a search authorization from the Installation Commander, who is authorized to issue “military search warrants” after consultation with the JAG. Again, results of urinalysis tests obtained through search authorizations can be used in court-martials, article 15s, and involuntary discharges, including service characterization. Members cannot refuse to provide a urine sample which has been authorized by a military search warrant.
- Consent. If a commander does not have probable cause, the commander can ask the member for “consent to search.” If the member grants consent, the results of the urinalysis may be used in court-martials, article 15s, and involuntary discharges to include service characterization. Under this procedure, members do not have to grant consent.
- Commander Directed. If a member refuses to grant consent, and if the commander does not have enough evidence to warrant a probable-cause search warrant, the commander may order the member to give a urine sample anyway. However, commander-directed urinalysis results may not be used for court-martial or article 15 purposes. The results MAY be used as a reason for involuntary discharge, but MAY NOT be used to determine service characterization. In other words, the member can be discharged, but what kind of discharge he/she receives (honorable, general, other-than-honorable) depends upon his/her military record (WITHOUT using the urinalysis results).