Drug Court Sanctions for Positive Drug Tests

"To further investigate how certain and swift consequences are for program requirement infractions, we asked about how courts responded to particular scenarios; first to positive drug test results and second to other types of infractions. The majority of courts (77.3 percent) indicated that every positive drug test results in a sanction. Additionally, 45.3 percent of courts reported that sanctions escalate and are always more severe than the prior sanction when participants have had repeated infractions. Another 54.4 percent reported sanctions are sometimes more severe for repeated noncompliance than the previous response to the last infraction. In terms of swiftness, 13.6 percent of courts impose a sanction for a positive drug test within a day of the results, regardless of whether the participant has a court appearance at that time, and 34.3 percent do so within a week (see Table 2-3.26). Another 41.2 percent wait until the next court appearance to impose the sanction, which could be quite swift—within a few days or a week—or it could involve a great deal of time if the participant is not required to attend hearings on a weekly basis."


Rossman, Shelli B., et al., "Final Report, Volume 2: The Multi-Site Adult Drug Court Evaluation: What's Happening with Drug Courts? A Portrait of Adult Drug Courts 2004" (Washington, DC: Urban Institute, June 2011), p. 60.