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December 20, 2017 - 4:09pm

Photo: BHS receives breathalyzers to use at school social events

posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia HS, STOP-DWI, news.

breathbhs2017.jpg

Today Batavia PD, the Sheriff's Office, and the STOP presented Batavia High School with two breathalyzers that school officials can use at school dances and similiar social functions to see if any students had a drink prior to arriving at the event.

Pictured are Matt Landers, STOP-DWI, Anita Strollo, a counselor career center coordinator at the school, Interim Principal Dennis Kenney, Chief Shawn Heubusch, and Sheriff William Sheron.

Kenney said the devices will be used to test every student entering such events, no exceptions, so everybody is treated equally. 

John Roach
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I like the idea, but who will do the testing and what happens if a young person tests positive?

Ed Hartgrove
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Not without a warrant - and, probable cause.

david spaulding
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I'm with Ed on this one........ we need to teach these kids about their Rights as Americans.. seems we are losing our Rights all the time, from the Patriot Act to the SAFE Act to Stop and Frisk to whatever is next..... No way I'd allow you to test my kids if they were still kids..
be cool if they all stuck together and told the administration to shove your social activities and dances, we won't be there.....

david spaulding
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it's all about control and these kids don't realize it. obey your master

Ed Hartgrove
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David. That was pretty much my thought, too.
"...to whatever is next".
Well, as breathalyzers can only detect alcohol in the system, I guess the next illogical step would be blood draws, indicating illegal drug use.

And, again, I would have no problem, IF there is probable cause - which would allow them (the "authorities") to appear before a judge to apply for a search warrant.

Anita Strollo
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These really are non invasive. They are wands that are simply waved to detect the smell of alcohol on people. No one is touched. No one has to blow into the device. These agencies should be commended for banding together for the safety of our community. If someone isn't drinking then there should not be a problem.

Ed Hartgrove
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Well, I'm certainly not an expert on breathalyzers, Anita. You don't need to be "touched" when you're being asked to follow somebody's back-and-forth finger movements, or, to stand on one leg while keeping your raised foot 6-inches off AND horizontal to the ground (oh, and not being allowed to use your arms for "balance"), either. But, to the best of my knowledge, even that requires a "reasonable suspicion" - which might lead to a probable cause situation.

Then, of course, there's the teen angst of having "bad breath", that a dancing partner might smell (I don't know. Do teens even get close enough, nowadays, while dancing? Probably not.). So, what happens to Johnny, if he gargled with Listerine out in the parking lot, just before trying to enter the school? (from http://www.rdhmag.com/articles/print/volume-34/issue-3/features/do-you-w...
"For example, original formula Listerine is about 54 proof with 26.9% alcohol, and many of the mint flavored mouthwashes are almost 22% alcohol. The alcohol content of Scope weighs in at 18.9%, and Cepacol at 14%. When compared to beer (3% to 7% alcohol), wine (12%), and even some liquors and distilled spirits, these products are concentrated sources of ethanol. Experts claim it is possible if not probable that swishing with alcohol-containing mouthwash can trigger a positive Breathalyzer test result for seven to 20 minutes after use."

It really doesn't affect me, either way. I just feel that, without "probable cause", or, at the very least, "reasonable suspicion", that a teen has been drinking, it is the wrong way to go. Whether you have to blow directly into a tube, or, into a "wand" held several inches from your face, to me, it feels wrong. I guess, in the end, it'll be up to the parents, and, the teens, themselves.

Oh, btw. Here's a little tidbit on how freedoms slip away. From https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/06/breathalyzers-of-the-...
"In France, it's mandatory to have a breathalyzer in the car. In America it isn't."

George Orwell was so ahead of his time. Big Brother IS watching!

Daniel Palmer
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*principal

C. M. Barons
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New Jersey v. T. L. O., 469 U.S. 325 (1985), Safford Unified School District v. Redding, 557 U.S. 364 (2009), Birchfield v. North Dakota, 579 U.S. ___ (2016).

Rich Richmond
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Well CM, the ruling proves good intentions may lead to unintended consequences. Perhaps the School Board should consult with their attorney before they implement this policy.

Ed Hartgrove
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Well, C.M., those (case laws referred to) are quite interesting - and, a LOT of reading.
I was just wondering. Could you let us know how you think they relate to the proposed breathalyzer tests?
From what I've read so far (as I said, it's a lot of reading, and, I'm nowhere near finished), the cases you listed seem to have one common factor: "reasonable suspicion" and/or "probable cause".
Again, I fail to see where the mere action of walking into a school's function/activity can be construed as containing either of those (legal) requirements. To me, it's no different than school officials searching through every students backpack, to see IF the student MIGHT be bringing something that's not allowed. I could be wrong, but, I don't think they have that authority "just because they want to see what's in there". Maybe they can. I certainly don't know. Maybe Ms. Strollo (or, an attorney) could answer that question.

Before I close, I notice that there's another post here on the batavian, relating to the school using the "breathalyzers". I believe the last two paragraphs of that post pretty much sums it up:
[As for whether the sensors violate students' rights, Dailey said, any student or parent who might be concerned about it are free to not attend the school function.
"If people choose not to come to the dance because of it, that's their choice, absolutely," Dailey said.]

Oh, as Batavia City Schools Superintendent Chris Dailey said, "We want to make sure we provide the safest possible environment for all of our students."

Does that mean that they will also be waving the breathalyzer wand in front of all of the teachers/chaperones that are present at the function? Because, I know for a fact that not all of them are "tea-totalers".

Jim Urtel Jr
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It`s a great idea! Even back when I was in school, 50-75% of the students at the social events were bombed! Why would anyone be against protecting your kids?

Daniel Palmer
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Howard, just for fun, let's edit the original article and correct the spelling of principal. Every time I look at the error I begin to have heart palpitations.

Daniel Palmer
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Thank you for editing. My heart is now beating at an appropriate clip.

C. M. Barons
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Ed, my post of three court decisions was intended to address the Constitutionality of subjecting students to a breathalyzer test. All three cases dealt with rights of privacy and evidence which seem to apply to this situation. New Jersey v. T. L. O., 469 U.S. 325 (1985) involved a student initially determined to have been smoking. Her purse was searched for cigarettes, and drugs were found in the purse. The question was, "Is smoking sufficient cause to search a purse?" The court answered in the affirmative. Safford Unified School District v. Redding, 557 U.S. 364 (2009) tested the strip-search of a 13 year old girl who had been accused of possessing ibuprofen, contrary to school policy. The court upheld the plaintive, ruling that the search was unjustified. However in a dissenting view, Justice Clarence Thomas noted that he agreed with the majority that the school administrators were qualifiedly immune to prosecution. "However, he argued that the judiciary should not meddle with decisions school administrators make that are in the interest of keeping their schools safe. (1)" Birchfield v. North Dakota, 579 U.S. ___ (2016)- the significant determination of this case was the distinction drawn between breath test and blood test. The court decided that a breath test could be conducted, warrantless, while a blood test could not. In my opinion these cases are germane to the subject at hand. If you don't agree, c'est la vie. (1) www.oyez.com

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