“How much is it?”
That’s the most common question clients ask when deciding to commission a drug or alcohol test.
We know budgets are tight. We know cost is important. But we also know there’s a huge difference between cost and value, and the cheapest testing method may not always be the best. Here’s what goes into determining the cost of hair drug and alcohol testing, specifically - and who pays.
What affects the cost of a hair drug and alcohol test?
The cost of a hair drug and alcohol test can vary significantly based on a number of elements.
- The number of substances involved. Inevitably, testing for a single substance will incur a lower cost than testing for a long list of substances that an individual may have misused. At Cansford Laboratories, we can test for up to 133 compounds in hair.
- The timeframe required. Hair testing can cover a period of several months. The longer the timeframe required, the longer the sample that will need to be taken - and the greater the amount of work that will be involved in the analysis and reporting.
- Who will collect the sample. A trained collector from the laboratory will ensure a more robust chain of custody, but will incur additional cost.
- Whether a witness statement is required. This will incur additional cost.
Taking all of these factors into account, the cost of a single drug or alcohol test can range from under £100 to thousands of pounds. Consider your specific requirements so you choose the testing method that will provide the desired results.
Bear in mind, too, that the type of court case the test is for will affect where the responsibility for payment lies.
Who pays for the test in private and public law cases?
Who pays for a hair drug or alcohol test will depend on whether the law case is public or private.
In private law cases - where parents or guardians of a child agree between themselves that testing is required - many individuals will represent themselves for reasons of affordability. Here, individuals will pay for testing themselves.
Public law cases, however, involve local authorities, and it may be possible to apply for legal aid to cover the expense. However, whether legal aid is granted will depend on the case, with the decision made as follows:
- The judge requests a drug test, which must be conducted according to a series of conditions that are listed in a court order.
- These conditions could stipulate, for example, that a hair strand test is conducted to assess the use of five particular substances over the previous three months.
- If these conditions are not met - for example, the test assessed substance use over the previous six months, instead of three - legal aid can be withheld.
- Should the cost of a drug test be higher than expected (covering a longer time period than needed, for example), the court may be unwilling to pay the extra funds - particularly as the legal aid budget has been cut significantly over the years.
So: what’s the true cost of a hair drug or alcohol test cost? Unfortunately, there’s no simple answer. While the state may foot the bill through legal aid, the price could stretch to £1,000 - or possibly more, if repeat testing is needed.
It may be tempting to opt for the most affordable option - but if it doesn’t meet your exact requirements, the risk of the evidence being inadmissible in court will render the test worthless. Hair drug and alcohol testing is a vital tool in family law cases - but only when done right.
While it’s important to choose the right kind of drug or alcohol test, it’s also vital to ensure it’s conducted in the right way. Learn more about the Cansford approach here.