Posts tagged with "deterrent"

Random Drug Testing of Middle School Students on the Rise

Mandatory drug testing has become commonplace wherever we look. “Olympic athletes must submit urine samples to prove they are not doping. The same is true for Tour de France cyclists, N.F.L. players, college athletes and even some high school athletes.”[1] A previous post on this website discusses in greater detail the permissible use of drug tests on students who wish to participate not only in sports but also any other extracurricular school activity. This type of search is subject to a reasonableness standard, though exceptions may apply irrespective of whether or not the school district suspects your child is abusing illicit drugs. [2]

This brings me to my question of the day: is it reasonable to ask a middle school child, who wants to participate in her school’s scrapbooking club, to pee in a cup?

School districts in at least nine States – Connecticut not included – have extended the use of random drug tests to include middle school students. Administrators cite surveys that show early use of drugs; one superintendent in Oregon explained, “The hope is, if you know you’re going to be tested, you just don’t start using. We’re trying to break the cycle before it starts.”[3] A member of the Student Drug-Testing Coalition stated:

It starts early with kids. You want to get in there and plant these seeds of what’s out there and do prevention early. The 11th and 12th graders, most of them have already made a choice. But the eighth graders, they’re still making decisions, and it helps if you give them that deterrent.[4]

Critics question the effectiveness of drug testing. “There’s little evidence these programs work. Drug testing has never been shown to have a deterrent effect,” noted Dr. Linn Goldberg. Dr. Goldberg’s 2007 study of athletes at eleven high schools, half of which with drug testing and the other half without, “found that athletes from the two groups did not differ in their recent use of drugs or alcohol.”[5] Furthermore, civil rights groups and parents argue that the drug tests violate students’ privacy rights, and depending upon relevant state law, courts appear more willing to issue injunctions or other orders halting policies that are deemed unconstitutional.[6] Thus, it will be particularly interesting to see how this line of cases – random drug testing in middle schools – proceeds in courts nationwide, and whether it will culminate into the next Vernonia[7] or Earls.[8]

Should you have any questions regarding drug testing in schools, school searches in general, or any other education law matter, please do not hesitate to contact Attorney Joseph C. Maya, Esq. He may be reached at Maya Murphy, P.C., 266 Post Road East, Westport, Connecticut (located in Fairfield County), by telephone at (203) 221-3100, or by email at JMaya@mayalaw.com.

Written by Lindsay E. Raber, Esq.


[1] “Middle Schools Add a Team Rule: Get a Drug Test,” by Mary Pilon. Published September 22, 2012. Accessed October 10, 2012: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/23/sports/even-some-middle-schools-now-test-for-drugs.html

[2] “Advocating on Your Child’s Behalf: A Parent’s Guide to Connecticut School Law,” by Joseph C. Maya, Esq., at 60.

[3] “Some Ore. schools test for drugs in middle school,” by the Associated Press. Published September 23, 2012. Accessed October 10, 2012: http://www.ctpost.com/news/article/Some-Ore-schools-test-for-drugs-in-middle-school-3887608.php

[4] See Footnote 1.

[5] Id.

[6] See, e.g., “Judge Stops Enforcement of School District’s Suspicionless Drug Testing Policy,” by the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania. Published July 26, 2011. Accessed October 10, 2012: http://staging.aclupa.org/news/2011/07/26/judge-stops-enforcement-of-school-districts-suspicionless-drug-testing-policy

[7] Vernonia School District 47J v. Acton, 515 U.S. 646 (1995).

[8] Board of Education Independent School District No. 92 v. Earls, 536 U.S. 822 (2002).

State Supreme Court Addresses Whether DMV License Suspensions Constitute “Convictions” That Bar Subsequent OMVUI Prosecutions

In a recent criminal law matter, the Supreme Court of Connecticut upheld a lower court’s ruling that an administrative license suspension does not constitute a “conviction” under our statutes for purposes of double jeopardy protections.

This case arose from an incident that occurred on January 13, 2006. Police officers pulled over the defendant under suspicion that he was driving under the influence, and arrested him after he failed several field sobriety tests. The defendant was charged with operating a motor vehicle while under the influence (OMVUI) in violation of Connecticut General Statutes (CGS) § 14-227a. The Department of Motor Vehicles held an administrative hearing and the hearing officer ordered that the defendant’s driver’s license be suspended for ten months.

The defendant moved to dismiss all charges against him. He argued that “he already had been ‘convicted’ of the same offense in the administrative proceedings,” so to prosecute him for OMVUI would amount to double jeopardy in violation of state and federal constitutional protections. The trial court denied his motion, stating that an administrative license suspension under CGS § 14-227b was not a punishment, thus the defendant’s rights against double jeopardy were not violated by subsequent prosecution for OMVUI. The defendant entered a conditional plea of nolo contendere before promptly appealing his conviction.

The Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states, “No person shall… be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb.” Double jeopardy, as it is commonly referred to, encompasses several protections, including against “a second prosecution for the same offense after conviction.” Connecticut does not have an explicit comparable statute, though double jeopardy protections are implicit through our due process statutes. Our courts have determined that civil or administrative sanctions that serve “a legitimate remedial purpose” and are “rationally related to that purpose” do not constitute double jeopardy violations, even if the sanction has an attendant deterrent or retributive effect. In essence, “prosecutions or convictions for double jeopardy purposes arise only from proceedings that are essentially criminal.”

In this case, the Supreme Court reviewed cases under which administrative hearings were found “sufficiently remedial” so as to not bar subsequent prosecution. In looking into the legislative history of CGS § 14-227b, the Court noted that the “principle purpose [of the statute] was to protect the public by removing potentially dangerous drivers from the state’s roadways.” License suspension hearings subsequent to OMVUI arrests facilitate that purpose. In addition, the language of CGS §§ 14-227b and 14-1 (21), which defines “conviction,” do not reveal an intent that “an administrative suspension forecloses future criminal proceedings against the defendant for the same offense.” The Supreme Court was thus not persuaded by the defendant’s argument that the suspension was a criminal “conviction” that would bar an OMVUI prosecution, and the judgment was affirmed.

When faced with a charge of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated (a.k.a. driving under the influence) or license suspension, an individual is best served by consulting with an experienced criminal law practitioner. Should you have any questions regarding criminal defense, please do not hesitate to contact Attorney Joseph C. Maya in the firm’s Westport office in Fairfield County at 203-221-3100 or at JMaya@Mayalaw.com.

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