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socrateaser, Lawyer
Category: California Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 37871
Experience:  Retired (mostly)
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Under what circumstances are Calif. Law Enforcement tested

Customer Question

Under what circumstances are Calif. Law Enforcement tested for steroid use?
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: California Employment Law
Expert:  fedcrimlawyer replied 5 years ago.

TexCrimLawyer, J.D. :

It depends on the specific agency the person works for, but there are some general guidelines most follow.

TexCrimLawyer, J.D. :

Most law enforcement agencies will drug test when there is "just cause."

TexCrimLawyer, J.D. :

Generally, there are two criteria the agency will look at to determine if there is just cause:

TexCrimLawyer, J.D. :

1. The employee exhibits objective symptoms of being under the influence of alcohol
and/or a narcotic or drug; or

TexCrimLawyer, J.D. :

2. There is a reasonable and articulated suspicion that the employee has ingested or
absorbed by the body in any other manner an alcoholic beverage, narcotic, or drug.


I am not able to accept this as I think there is a more specific answer. All three statements start with qualifiers and I am looking for specifics which is why I kept my question short and to the point. I may be wrong but a Lawyer who deals with or has specific knowledge of these requirements and police union/associations rules here in Southern Calif may be better suited to answer this. I could be wrong but the answer is too general. Thanks.

Expert:  socrateaser replied 5 years ago.

I agree with my colleague in that there is no single drug testing law or regulation in California applicable to all law enforcement agencies. I can't prove this negative, other than to say that I have looked through the various codes and I find no such law.

That said, California does have privacy laws which are much more strict than those of any other U.S. jurisiction, which includes federal law.

The California Supreme Court has not yet directly ruled on the issue, however case law suggests that a drug test of an existing employee without any individualized suspicion is an "unreasonable search," unless the employee is in "a safety or security sensitive position." An employee's privacy interests may be outweighed by the employer's safety-related reasons for random drug testing its workers. This includes the employer's interest in reducing the risk of injury to coworkers. The employer's safety concerns may stem from the hazardous environment in which the employee works or from hazards inherent in the work itself. See Smith v. Fresno Irrig. Dist. (1999) 72 Cal.App.4th 147, 159, 84 Cal.Rptr.2d 775, 784.

Given that background, it is likely that random grug tests of law enforcement personnel is lawful, except perhaps for persons who are not directly employed in a safety or security position (administrative assistants, maintenance, etc.).

The California Police Chiefs Organization publishes a guideline concerning drug testing. See this link. However, this guideline is not manadatory.

In the end, the drug testing of law enforcement officers in California is an issue determined individually by each agency.

Hope this helps.

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socrateaser, Lawyer
Satisfied Customers: 37871
Experience: Retired (mostly)
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