Positive Newborn Drug Tests No Longer Sent to Police

 Posted on June 20,2024 in Criminal Law

IL defense lawyerA new bill removing the requirement that positive newborn drug screenings be reported to law enforcement has just been approved by the Illinois legislature. Governor Pritzker is expected to sign the bill into law this week. This new law will come as a relief for women who have experienced addiction during their pregnancies and according to proponents, will encourage these expectant mothers to come forward and seek treatment without fear of arrest. As of now, until this law goes into effect, the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) is required to report the matter to law enforcement when a newborn baby fails a toxicology screen. If you are charged with a crime because law enforcement became involved after your child had a positive drug test at birth, an Arlington Heights, IL criminal defense lawyer can help you.

How Newborn Drug Test Reporting Led to Arrests 

Illinois’s laws regarding pregnant women who use drugs are not always abundantly clear. However, women have been prosecuted because they experienced a stillbirth or gave birth to a child who had medical issues as a result of prenatal exposure to drugs. Laws pertaining to child endangerment have come into play. Even if mothers are not arrested at the time their babies’ drug tests are reported, they are now on the police’s radar.

Mothers who lose custody of their babies due to a positive newborn toxicology test but have older children at home are often subject to further investigation by both law enforcement and DCFS. These mothers could be arrested if the police determine that the older children have been endangered or neglected. If the police find that the mother is sometimes intoxicated while watching her children, this fact alone may be enough for the police to arrest her.

DCFS and Hospitals Could Still Choose to Report

Even with the new law, both DCFS and healthcare providers could still choose to report mothers of babies born with drugs in their bodies to law enforcement. However, they also have the discretion to not file a report. The anticipated effect is that reports will not be filed in cases where the child was not harmed or endangered or where the mother is actively seeking treatment. For example, a mother with an untreated heroin addiction and whose baby goes through withdrawals would probably still be reported. A mother who used cannabis on several occasions probably would not.

Contact an Arlington Heights, IL Criminal Defense Attorney

Scott F. Anderson, Attorney at Law is dedicated to helping mothers who are facing criminal charges. Experienced Cook County, IL criminal defense lawyer Scott Anderson has been practicing for over 25 years. Contact us at 847-253-3400 for a complimentary consultation.

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