Breathalyzers On Prom Night: How Alcohol Testing In High Schools Is Becoming The Norm

Students going to high school prom this year will notice there is more than balloons and confetti greeting them at the door. Some high schools will have teachers standing ready to take breathalyzers as well as tickets to screen students for alcohol consumption. It made seem like an intrusive way to start your evening with lipstick covered lips onto a breathalyzer reader, but teachers and parents agree it can save lives.

According to sources, motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for people aged 15 to 20. It is estimated that one teen is killed every hour in the United States because of teenage drunk driving. So communities, such as the Pequannock Township High School in New Jersey are doing something about it and demanding random alcohol testing as part of the school program.

Where students feel attacked is how the school system is going about testing. The (EtG), ethyl glucuronide urine test the school is using to test students can prove up to 90 days when the last time the student consumed alcohol. So, if a student was at a party over the weekend, they could be tested on Monday and the results would show if they have consumed alcohol or not. In more recent news, EtG alcohol testing has been developed for hair alcohol testing where a sample of scalp hair is collected from a student and sent to a laboratory where is it then tested for alcohol use. With hair alcohol testing, past alcohol abuse can be measured up to 12 months, depending on the length of the hair sample.

Other findings report that the American Civil Liberties Union says random urine alcohol testing is an invasion of privacy, while in 2002, the U.S. Supreme Court in Board of Education of Pottawatomie v. Earls, voted in favor to allow public schools to test students for drugs if they were participating in competitive sports or extra curricular activities. Not otherwise. Student privacy rights vary from state to state which can give greater protection over student’s rights compared to others.

As more research unfolds, newer methods of random alcohol screening could be enforced. Depending on the past police records of students, number of detentions or other behaviors in school could affect the degree of ramifications due to positive alcohol evidence in a student’s sample. As one researcher put it, a phone call home to parents could be the only punishment necessary to prevent under age alcohol consumption in the future.

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