Q: I got child-lined by children’s hospital. Our 18-month-old fractured her collar bone running in house. They suspected child abuse, but it was unfounded. When the CYF lady came to close case she did but she said she had another report that I had a birthday party for my husband and that there were reports of drug usage. That is a lie and she now she wants me to do a drug and alcohol evaluation at Power. What should I do? I feel like I’m being harassed. What are my rights? Can I refuse? (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: An attorney would need much more information to advise. Based on what you say, it is possible that CYF is considering removing your children due to suspected abuse or neglect. You can refuse a drug test and to even speak with CYF. Be aware that if you do, they may not go away. If you can afford a lawyer, you should get one. If your children are in fact removed from your care, or a petition for dependency is filed and you cannot afford a private lawyer, contact the Allegheny County Bar Foundation Conflict Counsel Office and ask to have a Parent Advocate appointed.
Q: Will I have a drug test on my court date for a DUI of minor and paraphernalia? This is my first offense with the law. I am 20 years old, currently charged with DUI of .183 and paraphernalia of pipe and pill bottle “smelling of weed”. I will be hiring an attorney soon but I’m worried about if the drug test will be on the given court date or after I am granted ARD? Again I live in PA and I am a minor and they never found cannabis, just the scent in a bottle and the glass pipe.
A: Drug testing in court in Allegheny County can only be ordered by a Judge. It would be rare to have drug testing ordered at the Preliminary Hearing level. Some judges in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Criminal Division, use drug testing regularly, for example, drug court or DUI court. However, among the other judges, there are only several that screen defendants randomly. They do this to people they believe have entered the courtroom under the influence and who are facing drug or alcohol related offenses. The judge may ask the person on the record if they have used drugs or consumed alcohol in the past 24 hours. The person takes a risk if they lie. The judge can order the person’s urine to be tested in the court house. The results are reported to the judge within minutes. If the judge chooses, the bond is revoked and the person is whisked away by a Deputy Sheriff to accommodations in the Allegheny County Jail. The judge may let the person sit in the jail as long as he or she wants. In these situations, an honest answer will provide a better chance of avoiding jail as lying to a judge is considered worse than being under the influence. I doubt if this will happen to you based on this being your first offense and you are probably looking at ARD. However, as a word of caution, do not come to court under the influence or even with clothing that smells like marijuana.