What is an Alcohol Urine Test?

Phil Shepley

An alcohol urine test, or screening, is a medical analysis of a sample of urine to detect whether or not alcohol has been consumed by a person. This test may also be used to determine a time frame of how recently a person had ingested alcohol. This test can be administered to a person for a variety of reasons, most of which are work-related in terms of on-the-job safety. An alcohol urine test can also be used for a parolee who has been ordered by a court to keep his or her system free of alcohol, among other substances.

Alcohol detection can also be done via blood testing.
Alcohol detection can also be done via blood testing.

A standard alcohol urine test attempts to detect the presence of alcohol in the urine for a period of six to 24 hours after it had been consumed. The person being tested must place a urine specimen into a sterile container. After this, the test, usually in the form of a chemical-detecting card, is placed in the sample and the card will detect the presence of alcohol. A laboratory will need to verify the results under many circumstances.

Urine screening can be used to detect alcohol in the system.
Urine screening can be used to detect alcohol in the system.

The ability for an alcohol urine screening to detect the use of alcohol can vary widely, based on a number of factors. The duration of time that has passed since the alcohol was consumed relative to the time of the drug test is the most important of these factors, and it may take up to two hours after the ingestion of alcohol in order for it to be detected. Once the chemical is detected, it may continue to be found by testing for a variety of durations, again depending on a number of different factors.

An extension of the alcohol urine test can detect the chemical Ethyl glucuronide (EtG) in the urine, which is a byproduct of alcohol that has been metabolized by the body. The purpose of doing this additional testing is to attempt to determine whether alcohol had been last used over a longer period of time than a standard alcohol urine test, for example from a period of 80 hours to five days from the time that alcohol was last consumed. The equipment that is needed to perform the test is rather expensive, which makes this type of urine alcohol screening a less popular method of testing for alcohol consumption.

Other methods of alcohol detection also exist. A popular method is the breath alcohol test, which offers much faster results. Alcohol in the system can also be tested through a variety of other means, including hair samples, blood, tests, and saliva tests. Urine tests remain popular since they are cheap, easy to use, and offer reliable results.

Alcohol can be detected in the urine for up to 24 hours after it has been consumed.
Alcohol can be detected in the urine for up to 24 hours after it has been consumed.

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Discussion Comments


I got drug tested by my IOP (Intensive Outpatient Program ) last week and I got the results back yesterday. My counselor told me that I failed the test because of alcohol. When I was tested, I was hungover because I was drinking heavily the day before. The results I got from that drug test said I had a a chemical in my urine that's also in alcohol. Supposedly the normal amount of this chemical in a persons urine is 200 - 300. My urine analysis showed I had over 2500. What is the chemical that showed up? Please, no negative comments. I know I screwed up, but I have been trying for sobriety and this would help me.

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