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.
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