Hair drug testing can play a crucial role in a lot of Private and Public law cases. The results of the test can influence the court’s decision when it comes to child custody cases, access agreements and care proceedings.
In Private law cases, hair testing may be used when there is a custody dispute or one of the parent’s is accusing the other of substance abuse. Hair testing may even be used in cases of domestic violence or paternity cases where DNA verification is required.
In Public law cases where Local Authorities get involved, hair testing can be used in cases where the State needs to consider removing children from the care of their parents due to substance abuse.
Yet, setting up a hair test isn’t quite the same between Private and Public law cases. These cases can differ when it comes to who will request the hair test be conducted and who will actually pay for the test.
Requesting the hair test
In Private law cases, the parents involved will usually agree between themselves that a hair test will be conducted. However, determining who is responsible for requesting and setting up the test can differ based on the circumstances of the case.
For example, in cases of domestic violence where the parents are divorced/separated, the test would be requested by the Solicitor of the parent who has custody of the children.
In cases where allegations of substance abuse are made, the test would be arranged by the Solicitor of the individual being accused of drug use. For example, where a mother accuses the father of abusing drugs, the father’s Solicitors would arrange for a drug test to be conducted.
In Public law cases, hair tests can only be conducted with the permission of the court. Once the court has authorized the hair test, it’s the responsibility of the Local Authorities involved to request the test from the laboratory.
Ultimately, responsibility for requesting the test tends to lie with Solicitors or Local Authorities involved in the case.
Who pays for the test?
Just like requesting a hair test, Private and Public law cases differ when it comes to payment for the test.
In Private law cases, as the parents will agree between themselves that a drug test will be conducted, they will also pay for the costs of the test.
However, Public law cases are somewhat different as the cost of the test can be covered by legal aid. What tends to happen is that a Judge will set out the conditions of the test i.e. it should assess specific drugs, checking for drug use over a particular period of time etc. Although, for legal aid to cover the cost of the test, the test shouldn’t stray outside of these conditions.
For example, if the Judge asks for the hair test to assess cocaine and heroin use, but the Social Worker requesting the test also told the lab to check for opiate use, the court can refuse to pay for the test.
Hair drug testing isn’t cheap, and the costs can mount up pretty quickly i.e. the more drug groups you request testing for, the higher the cost. If the test isn’t conducted according to the conditions set out by the court, courts have every right to refuse to pay for the test.
Using the results as evidence in court
Hair test results can be powerful when used as evidence in court, but that’s only if they make it to court.
Although Private and Public law cases differ in many ways, what’s certain in both scenarios is that the results of the hair test can only be used as evidence if approved by the court.
So in Private law cases, even if disputing parents came to an agreement between themselves about having a hair test, the results of the test could only be used as evidence in court if the Judge approves it.
Ultimately, without permission from the court, hair test results cannot be used as evidence in any form of proceedings.
Overall, many procedural elements in setting up the hair test differ between Private and Public law cases. This includes who requests the hair test and who actually pays for the test. Still, across both branches of law, hair tests results can only be used as evidence in legal proceedings with permission of the court.