HAIR TESTS REQUIRED?
It is standard for DCF social workers to ask clients to submit to a hair test. It is also standard for Juvenile Court judges to order hair tests. But is this legal?
At present, yes.
Connecticut law allows urine testing for drugs in several explicit situations:
Hair testing is not allowed in these situations. In fact, there is no reference whatsoever to hair testing in any Connecticut statute or regulation.
However, state law (CGS 46b-121(b)) gives to the Juvenile Court the power “to make and enforce such orders…as it deems necessary or appropriate to secure the welfare…of a child…subject to its jurisdiction or otherwise committed to [DCF].”
The “Court” means the Judge, not DCF social workers or lawyers. Therefore, DCF does not have the power to order you to take a hair test, although it can use your refusal to do so in a petition filed against you. Without question, if DCF is after you for a hair test, you should speak to (and should already have retained) a lawyer.
But can the Judge issue such an order? It’s one of those vexing legal questions. The statutes in the table specially allow urine testing. There is no statute that specifically disallows hair testing. And Judges use their general powers regarding child welfare to order hair testing in Juvenile Court abuse and neglect cases.
A few years ago, our office filed an appeal to the State Supreme Court to disallow hair testing without the consent of the subject. The State Supreme Court disallowed that appeal.
Our office filed a bill in the State Legislature to make hair testing illegal in Juvenile Court without consent. That bill failed in 2008. In 2010, we were reliably advised by a powerful State Senator that such a bill would again not succeed; and that if we pushed it, that could jeopardize other bills that we were pushing.
Therefore, as of today, it is legal for Juvenile Court Judges to order hair tests for adults in the Juvenile Court, without their consent. If you do not comply, you may be held in contempt of court; or at least have it much more difficult or impossible to get your kids returned.
Advice: Stay off illegal drugs.
We realize how difficult it is to kick drug habits. We are always glad to refer clients to qualified counselors, therapists, and rehab programs, and often work with DCF in that regard. We also recommend AA/NA in many cases. However, AA/NA is a supplemental support program. It should NOT be your only support, unless you have already kicked the habit for a significant amount of time.