WAAY 31 I-TEAM: Some people in North Alabama using fake urine to cheat on drug tests

WAAY 31’s I-TEAM investigates how some people in the Tennessee Valley are cheating on employer drug tests by using fake urine.

Posted: Sep 27, 2019 5:47 PM
Updated: May 4, 2021 11:31 AM

Some people who like to get high are buying products that hit a new low.

They’re using synthetic urine from a variety of manufacturers marketed under a long list of names.

Here in the Valley, though, we ran across a product called U-Pass at almost every convenience store we checked. That makes it too convenient for some people to pass off the fake urine as their own.

We showed a convenience store customer a photo of one product. “Yeah, I’ve seen those before,” Sara Daffin told WAAY 31. We asked her what she thought of synthetic urine marketed under the name U-Pass. “Well, being someone who’s never tried drugs, I think it’s a pretty bad thing,” she told us.

Daffin takes her business to Dodge’s Store on Whitesburg Drive in Huntsville. Dodge’s does not sell any brand of fake urine. But, across the Tennessee Valley, one convenience store after another has U-Pass sitting next to cash registers.

“When you’re cheating, you’ll always be found out,” Daffin said. “Something always happens.

That cheating she mentioned is happening on employee drug tests.

“It’s standard policy for us to drug test all of our employees,” Jason Padgett told WAAY 31. He owns Rockstar Personnel in Huntsville.

“Drug tests are important,” Padgett said. “Employees who use drugs are about a third less productive than employees who don’t. So it’s important to make sure production is at a high.”

Getting high hurts more than a business’s bottom line.

Padgett told WAAY 31 drug users are a risk to everybody. “The employee will wind up getting hurt on the job or hurt somebody else,” he said.

When it comes to synthetic urine, there’s more in the retail box than just the fake urine.

It also comes with hand warmers to heat the liquid and a temperature strip to make sure it’s heated to an acceptable body temperature.

“There are ways to cheat the system,” Padgett said. “But, normally, it will backfire.”

At least eighteen states have outlawed selling or using synthetic urine to falsify drug tests. Alabama is not among those states.

The Drug Enforcement Administration estimates people switch or tamper with at least ten percent of all drug test samples.

Clinical laboratories that test for drugs are paying real attention to the fake urine. Summit Diagnostics warns the most common way to cheat is now with fake or synthetic urine.

Summit says labs have traditionally been unable to detect it and products like U-Pass are part of a new billion-dollar industry.

To fight back, Summit just announced a new validity screen to prove specimens are real.

“At the end of the day, it’s not a good thing for anybody to be using drugs while they’re on the job,” Jason Padgett told us.

Back at Dodge's Store: “A lot of people say these things aren’t that bad or they don’t do anything,” Sara Daffin said. “But, any little slip of the hand, you can make a mistake.” She says it’s a serious mistake to try to beat drug tests in the first place.

“And the truth always comes to the light. So, it’s always better to tell the truth from the beginning.”

State Representative Arnold Mooney proposed a bill making it illegal to use synthetic urine to beat a drug test. That bill failed to make it out of the latest legislative session in Montgomery. But, Mooney said he’ll continue pushing for the ban.

You may be surprised to hear some big box retailers sell fake urine in their lawn and garden departments. But, those products are intended to repel wildlife from yards. And they don’t come with hand warmers and temperature strips so people can fool drug testers.

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