DUI Case Law and Updates
William S. Hardman, Jr.
Attorney at Law
Attorney at Law
Beware of the EtG Test for alcohol if you are on probation and subject to random alcohol and drugs screens
The Ethyl Glucuronide (EtG) Test:
This is a test that probation officers frequently administer to test for the presence of alcohol in the systems of people who are on probation. Ethyl Glucuronide is a metabolite (which is formed as part of the natural biochemical process of degrading and eliminating the compounds) of ethanol which is the type of alcohol in alcoholic beverages such as beer, wine or liquor. Even if a person had consumed enough alcohol so that their blood alcohol level would be above .08% (the legal limit to drive), their blood alcohol level would typically be 0% the next morning assuming that they did not consume a very large amount of alcohol the night before. The Etg Test is also known as the "80 Hour Test" because it can detect the presence of the alcohol metabolite up to 80 hours after a person has consumed any alcohol. 80 hours is approximately 3.5 days. Chronic abusers of alcohol may have a positive test result closer to the 80 hour mark than a person who consumes only a drink or two. EtG concentrations are measured in nanograms per millileter (ng/mL). Different testing labs can require a different ng/mL threshold level to test positive for alcohol (100/250/500 ng/mL). Other sources of alcohol such as mouthwash or medications containing alcohol may also indicate a positive result on the EtG Test if a lower threshold is used at the lab. CONCLUSION: If a person is on probation and is subject to random drug and alcohol screens, this test can indicate that they have consumed alcohol DAYS later when tested by their probation officer. Many people will falsely assume that if they only have a couple of beers on Saturday and don't have to submit to a drug test until Tuesday of the next week, they are safe from failing any alcohol test. This is not the case. This is another reason to make sure that any person who is subject to random alcohol screens make sure they do not consume any alcohol while on probation. If a person fails their alcohol screen while on probation, the probation officer may file a petition to revoke probation, a court hearing may be set on the issue, and a judge may revoke probation and send the probationer to jail for a certain period or for the remainder of the original sentence.