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12 Panel Drug Screen

The 12-panel urinalysis drug screen is considered a threshold question in getting your driver’s license restored. You need to overcome the hurdle of the drug screen to advance further in the process of demonstrating long-term sobriety and the network of support to maintain it. Our driver’s license restoration attorneys we can make sure you have all of the information necessary.

What Does the Drug Screen Check For?

The purpose of a 12-panel drug screen is to check for illicit substances. A typical 12 panel drug screen will test for active metabolites of the following 10 substances: amphetamines, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, cannabis, cocaine, methadone, methaqualone, opiates, phencyclidine, and propoxyphene. Typically, you will provide a urine sample at a clinic or drug testing site, and then the sample will be sent to a laboratory to have the test conducted. The drug screen is really about demonstrating by objective, certifiable scientific-proof that you have maintained abstinence from drugs.

The following table summarizes approximate detection times for the various substances. However, these are merely estimations and substances could still be detected for longer than the window indicates.

SubstanceDetection Window
Opiates1 to 3 days
Propoxyphene2 days
Amphetamines2 days
Methadone2 to 7 days
Benzodiazepines2 to 10 days
Barbiturates2 to 15 days
Phencyclidine8 days
Methaqualone10 days to 15 days
Cannabis1 week to 30 days

Marijuana and Detection Times

As you can see from the table, detection times vary based on the substance. It is worth noting that cannabis, or marijuana has the longest detection times. THC is the active metabolite in marijuana and can be detected after more than one month. The period of detection actually depends on how long a person has used marijuana, the frequency of use, and the amount used each time. It is possible for THC to build up in the fat cells and be detectable for even periods as long as three months for heavy chronic users. THC is not water soluble so simply flushing a buildup of THC out by drinking water will not work, and diluting a sample can lead to a failed test for a diluted sample.

Alcohol and the Drug Screen

Technically, alcohol is not one of the substances that are tested for in the required drug screen. However, this does not mean that you should go out drinking the night before your drug screen. Do not forget, we must show a year of sobriety in order to win your license restoration. The hearing officers do hundreds of these cases and are professionals when it comes to detecting sincerity and a person’s character for truthfulness. So, even though the drug screen will not actually test for alcohol you must prove one year of continuous sobriety at the hearing. We will do everything we can to instruct you how to build the record and help you put together supporting documentation to prove a year of continuous sobriety by clear and convincing evidence.

How to Prepare for the 12 Panel Drug Screen

One good tip is to try to avoid going to the bathroom for one or two hours before the test, so that when it is time for you to collect a sample you will be ready to go. Obviously, you do not want to consume drugs or alcohol before the test, but you also do not want to consume excessive amounts of fluid. Samples are tested for two types of dilution: “Internal Dilution” and “External Dilution.” Internal dilution is the one we need to be most concerned about, because it is the only way you can fail to pass a drug screen even if you have not been consuming drugs or alcohol. Samples are tested for the concentration of metabolites including creatinine. If the urine sample comes back with creatinine levels between 2mg/dl and 20 mg/dl and a specific gravity of 1.003 or less than it will be recorded as a diluted sample even if no drugs are detected. Therefore, do not consume an excessive amount of fluid right before your drug screen or you could potentially fail your screen even if you are clean and sober.

The other type of dilution is external dilution, which means placing extra fluid directly in the sample to avoid detection. This would be detected by abnormal creatinine levels, and specific gravity test, but also likely it would fail to pass the temperature verification test necessary for a qualified sample.

Laboratory Drug Screens vs. Instant Drug Screen

Many drug screen clinics offer laboratory based 12 panel drug screens and instant 12 panel drug tests. You will want to use a clinic that offers a laboratory based the 12 panel drug screen. One of the reasons it is imperative that you get a laboratory screen is that the instant tests will not generate the report necessary for your hearing request or the substance abuse evaluation. The instant tests use color change strips that are dipped into the urine. Consequently, the test results do not create a full report. However, laboratory 12 panel drug screens are more money than an instant test, but the full report will be more convincing to the substance abuse evaluator and the hearing officer. Additionally, laboratory tests are considered more reliable and include information such as creatinine levels and the specific gravity of the urine. For the purposes of driver’s license restoration hearings, we recommend that you make sure to get a laboratory-based test completed.


The results will be mailed to you in one to three weeks. Some laboratories have started to email results. If this is an option you can have results sent to you, your attorney, and also the substance abuse evaluator. If you have not set up your substance abuse evaluation yet, then simply bring the results of the 12 panel drug screen with you to the evaluation.

Do not hesitate to contact us with questions or to set up your free consultation today. Call us at 1-800-677-9795.

Please note: Recently Administrative Hearings Section (AHS) changed their name to the Office of Hearings and Administrative Oversight. Common use of the name Office of Hearings and Administrative Oversight has not yet been widely accepted and the entity responsible for driver's license hearings is still referred to as AHS in almost all legal areas, which is why we continue to use the term "AHS" throughout our website. More information about this change can be found at the Michigan Secretary of State's website.

Client Reviews

There are many lawyers out there that claim to be able to get your license returned to you. I can truly say Scott Grabel and his team helped me get my driver’s license back the first time! Even though I thought it was an insurmountable task they walked me through every step of the process. Grabel & Associates are the people you need because they seem to have a formula that works D.A.
This firm is no joke! DO NOT waste your money on any other law firm in the state. I paid $3000 for a "high-level" attorney and was denied twice. After having a consultation with Grabel & Associates, they could not believe I was ever denied and got my license back first try. I am telling you from first hand experience - INVEST IN GRABEL & ASSOCIATES!! Rob
The best law firm in the state. Outstanding communication and friendly. If you want or need to win your case this is the law firm that will take you there. All Personnel at this firm will do whatever it takes to win. They help me get my driver’s license back without me having to leave Alaska. From 1 to 10 THEY ARE #1 Tim K.