Drug and alcohol testing

Prison Drug Strategy

With the introduction of the Victorian Prison Drug Strategy, any prisoner convicted of drug-related offences, or testing positive to alcohol or drugs while in prison may be classified as an “Identified Drug User” (IDU).  Any IDU prisoner found guilty of:

  • a first offence may be ineligible for contact visits for 3 months
  • a second offence, this may be extended to 6 months
  • a third offence, this may be extended to 12 months

Additionally, on the second and third offences, a prisoner may be considered ineligible to participate in special visit days for periods of one to two months, respectively. The maximum ban on contact visits is for 12 months.  It needs to be understood that losing your contact visits is not a punishment. It may seem like a punishment, but contact visits are considered to be a ‘program’ and not a ‘privilege’ and you become ineligible for participation in the program.  The Corrections Act says that you can only lose one privilege if found guilty at a Governor’s Hearing and it is often thought that the visit ban is the removal of a privilege, but it is not.


Section 29A of the Corrections Act allows the prison manager to undertake drug and alcohol urine tests at any time.  This does not need to be based on a suspicion, and may be conducted randomly or selectively.


If a prisoner enters prison already on methadone or buprenorphine they may continue to receive this therapy through the Opioid Substitution Therapy Program.  An application can be made through the Justice Health provider on reception into the prison.

Further information

This fact sheet contains general information only and is not a substitute for obtaining legal advice. If you would like advice regarding a specific problem please contact one of the legal services listed in contacts or contact the Law Institute of Victoria’s Legal Referral Service on 9607 9311.

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