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A trial judge will often impose drug and/or alcohol screenings on a defendant as part of his pretrial conditions or as a condition of probation.

In either case, the screenings are administered by the probation department. 

Some screenings require the defendant (who often doesn’t have a driver’s license) to appear at the court’s probation office.  Others, such as the SCRAM breathalyzer, do not require the defendant to physically appear for testing.

Regardless, these tests can be quite burdensome to the defendant.  And, when you consider that pretrial proceedings and probation terms can last for well over a year, it’s no wonder that defendants routinely violate screening requirements—either by failing a test or missing a screening.

In most cases, therefore, it’s best for the defendant’s attorney to challenge screening requirements when they are proposed by the prosecutor at arraignment or a plea hearing.

Screenings are usually requested when the defendant has serious or habitual offenses related to substance abuse.

Some judges are willing to require the defendant to remain drug and alcohol free while not, at the same time, imposing screening as part of probation or pretrial release.