Supreme Court Rules Random Drug Tests Are Unconstitutional

The Washington Supreme Court recently ruled that requiring people arrested for driving under the influence to submit to random urinalysis tests is unconstitutional.

Requiring people who are arrested for driving under the influence to submit to random urinalysis tests as a condition of release is unconstitutional, the Washington Supreme Court ruled Thursday.

In 2015, Cortney Blomstrom, Christopher Cooper, and Brooke Button were arrested for driving under the influence. As a condition of their charges the three were ordered to undergo regular urine tests but objected to the court order because it was too invasive.

The intensity of testing was decided based on their criminal records.

All three were initially required to complete four tests a month. That decision held for Cooper and for Button who was caught driving under the influence of marijuana and had a previous criminal record. For Blomstrom, that order was reduced to just two tests a month, since she had already agreed to relinquish alcohol and had no prior criminal record.

The tree challenged the decision taking it to the Spokane County Superior Court where their request to have the urinalysis conditions removed were denied.

However, the state Supreme Court reversed that decision. The case was returned to the Superior Court for further proceedings in a decision written by Justice Charles Wiggins and signed by five justices.

One of the defendants, Cortney Blomstrom, was requested by the state to undergo random urinalysis four times a month. She objected, citing her lack of criminal record. The court also required that she abstain from using alcohol, citing public safety.

Another of the three defendants was arrested for driving under the influence of marijuana and was court ordered to undergo four random urinalysis tests a month.

The third defendant was also requested by the court to undergo weekly random urinalysis testing.

All three challenged the testing conditions as violating federal and state constitutions.

“Urinalysis is at least as invasive as a roadblock or a pat down search,” the Supreme Court said, concluding that court-ordered testing “constitutes an acute privacy invasion by the state.”

Four justices issued a partial dissent.

“Once an individual has been arrested on probable cause for certain offenses, such as DUI, courts have the authority to prohibit drug and alcohol use,” the dissent said.

That prohibition can be monitored through random urinalysis, the dissent signed by Justice Steven C. Gonzalez said.

Random drug tests were found to be a violation of the individuals’ privacy and therefore in violation the fourth amendment which prevents unreasonable search and seizure without probable cause.
But before we rejoice and stumble into work on Monday prepared to tell our bosses that the company piss test is illegal, there was a catch to this decision.

The court offered a partial dissent saying that “Judges should not be categorically prohibited from imposing necessary and narrowly tailored release conditions on defendants arrested on probable cause for DUI.”

The dissent was likely issued because of the extreme circumstances of this case. While the decision may set a precedent for other cases to be decided in a similar way, it’s likely that the Washington’s Supreme Court does not think all urinalysis was unconstitutional, such as when it is used in cases where courts have the legal authority to prohibit intoxication.

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One comment

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