Legal Hair Alcohol Test
Hair Alcohol Testing

Thousands of law firms trust DNA Legal for their hair alcohol test results

Legal Hair Alcohol Test

Ensuring the most accurate test

With alcohol abuse costing the UK over £23 billion per year and being a significant factor in over 1/3 of domestic violence cases, as well as more than 63% of care proceedings, it is essential that alcohol testing is carried out in a way that accurately and truthfully supports your clients. 

Around 15 – 20% of hair alcohol testing is incorrectly ordered or reported, which means that alcohol consumption can be falsely assessed as excessive, which may not be the case. Incorrect reporting of alcohol testing – with no consideration of other factors through toxicological analysis – can therefore lead to court delays, overages, and miscarriage of justice. 

DNA Legal advise that the outcomes of these tests can lose your client a custody case, not to mention wasted costs and the miscarriage of justice. 

For even more information, read our hair alcohol testing FAQs

Three critical alcohol testing points 

  1. The primary hair strand testing marker for alcohol, Ethyl glucuronide (EtG), should be supported with Fatty Acid Ethyl Ester (FAEE) testing if chemical treatment of the hair is evident. This permits mutual exclusion of false positives or negatives.
  2. FAEE testing should never be used in isolation, due to the potential for contamination by innocuous hair and body products.
  3. Hair strand alcohol testing is best used to complement blood testing (CDT, LFT, FBC, PEth).

Hair Alcohol Testing

Hair Alcohol Testing

Hair Alcohol Testing Explained

Hair strand alcohol testing assesses EtG and FAEEs biomarkers.

These biomarkers are incorporated in the hair through deposition via blood vessels or via sebum secreted from the sebaceous glands. Unlike hair drug testing, due to the degree of metabolite migration in the hair it is only possible to perform segmentation in an EtG test to two 3-month periods. Hair tested for FAEE cannot be segmented at all.

The alcohol markers (EtG and FAEE) are absorbed into the hair via sweat and diffusion. Unlike hair drug testing where the metabolites are absorbed through the root of the hair, when a client consumes alcohol the entire length of the hair will be contaminated with alcohol. Therefore it is not possible to segment the hair. 

Free Case Review

It is estimated that 15-20% of testing is ordered or reported incorrectly – meaning thousands of clients may have been affected by an erroneous overestimation of alcohol consumption.

If a previous case has involved results that you or your client are adamant do not correlate with your expectations, we will provide free-of-charge consultation and a case review to determine whether important factors have been overlooked.

Hair Products & Chemical Treatments

Hair alcohol testing must be interpreted with caution. This is especially true for clients who use chemical treatments.

Recent studies have shown that around 30% of hair strand alcohol testing produces contradictory results (negative EtG and positive FAEEs) attributable to alcohol-containing hair products causing false positives. At DNA Legal, we assess all underlying factors when interpreting these results.

Alcohol Test Detection Periods

Hair strand alcohol testing can assess consumption over a period of 6 months – as opposed to the one month maximum assessed by alcohol blood tests, or the approximate 4-day detection window provided by urine.

DNA Legal recommend combining hair strand and blood testing to provide the most accurate assessment of consumption over a proximal, and extended period. Our testing can distinguish between abstinence, regular ‘social drinking’ and excessive alcohol consumption. We are one of the only toxicology testing providers who can ascertain total abstinence through PEth testing.

Hair Length

Through analysis of hair samples, the testable time period for assessing alcohol consumption is either 3 or 6 months – depending on the length of the donor’s hair.

The hair is collected from the crown region of the scalp, in accordance with standard methodology. Sufficient hair must be collected to allow initial testing, followed by confirmatory or re-testing of the sample if necessary. A lock of hair, with the thickness of a pencil is recommended. Multiple samples may be needed depending on the testing required.

As an alternative sample, body hair can also be used to assess alcohol consumption. However, important consideration must be made of the differences in physiology, development rates and growth patterns.

Hair Alcohol Testing Facts

  • Hair strand alcohol testing allows assessment of up to 6 months of consumption – compared with approximately 80 hours in a urine test, or one month in blood testing
  • FAEEs are additional alcohol biomarkers that can be assessed alongside EtG to permit mutual exclusion of false positive/negatives. It is recommended to perform both tests. Like EtG testing, FAEE testing permits assessment of varying degrees of consumption.

Why choose DNA Legal for Hair Alcohol Testing

  • ISO accredited testing, full chain of custody and legally defensible results and Expert Reports.
  • All Pricing within LAA guidelines
  • Can test and report for abstinence and excessive consumption for alcohol
  • Results reported in accordance to the Society of Hair testing cut-off levels
  • First company in the UK to provide PEth blood testing for alcohol consumption. Superior blood alcohol test - 99% accurate, can also be used for ongoing monitoring.
  • First company in the UK to provide Nail as a testing matrix. Multiple testing matrix available; head hair, body hair, finger/toe nails & urine