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EtG Tests Used to Revoke Probation in Georgia

It is increasingly common that EtG tests are used to revoke probation in Georgia. If you have submitted to an EtG test, and that test is being used by the State or your probation officer in an effort to revoke your probation in Georgia, there are some highly technical issues that should be raised in defense of the probation revocation.

Ethyl glucuronide (EtG) is a minor ethanol metabolite used as a specific marker to (1) document recent alcohol consumption, (2) confirm abstinence in treatment programs, workplaces, and schools; and (3) provide legal proof of drinking.

We are constantly receiving calls from people that are on probation and are having EtG tests used to revoke their probation. It is essential that it is recognized that EtG tests can produce false positive results that may be the basis of a probation revocation in Georgia, if the results are left unquestioned. The presence of bacterial pathogens in urine may enable post-sampling production of EtG and ethyl sulfate (EtS) from ethanol.

The high diagnostic sensitivity of the EtG test has also produced adverse publicity, because unintentional ethanol intake from ethanol based mouthwash and hand sanitizers may also generate positive results. The United States Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration recently warned against using a positive EtG as primary or sole evidence of drinking for disciplinary and legal action.

EtG could be formed in a biological specimen after collection, if the specimen is infected with E. coli and ethanol is present or produced during storage. In our tested samples the formation of EtG was rapid and was not always prevented by addition of sodium fluoride or storage at refrigerator temperature. Bacterial and fungal infections are common in clinical practice, with E. coli being the primary pathogen responsible for urinary tract infections. Ethanol may be formed in unpreserved biological specimens because of microbial contamination and fermentation, and this risk is especially high in diabetic patients as a result of glycosuria. Accordingly, considering the potential serious disciplinary and legal consequences if an individual is falsely accused of alcohol consumption on the basis of an incorrect EtG result, caution is advised when interpreting EtG test results, and the risk for post-collection ethanol formation must be considered.

For more information on false-positives in EtG urine tests, see Anders Helander, et al., “Post-collection Synthesis of Ethyl Glucuronide by Bacteria in Urine May Cause False Identification of Alcohol Consumption.”

If you need help with a Georgia probation revocation matter based upon an EtG test, contact The Sessions Law Firm at (470) 225-7710.

Blog Post Provided By:

The Sessions Law Firm
3155 Roswell Rd., Ste. 220
Phone: 470-225-7710

About the Author

Ben Sessions, Attorney at Sessions Law Group
Ben Sessions

I work to provide exceptional service, attention, and results to each of my clients. Most of clients come to me because they are in a completely overwhelming situation. They need someone that will do more than address their legal problems.


Hiring a lawyer is about more than getting a great result in your case. We understand that for many of our clients, the event that led them to call us causes them tremendous stress and anxiety. We will help you understand the process and how we can help. When you hire The Sessions Law Firm for your case, you will have a lawyer that is willing to take the time to help you and committed to delivering the best results possible.