Plaintiffs rode a party bus to their high school prom. The prom had a strict no alcohol, drug, or tobacco policy. A champagne bottle was found on the bus, and that led the school district to detain everybody on the bus for breath tests before admission to the prom. It took a while for the tests to occur because the one person the school district had to do it had gone home and had to come back. The breath testing in general was reasonable as a school search. The students who passed the breath test, however, were unreasonably and unnecessarily detained. “We now hold, when government officials need to conduct breathalyzer or urine tests on students, the testing must be accomplished in a reasonably expeditious time period; once exonerated by the test, the student must be free to go.” Everybody on the bus missed the prom because it was almost over when they were released. No party or the court can find a case like this, so the defendants get qualified immunity. Ziegler v. Martin County Sch. Dist., 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 13745 (11th Cir. July 28, 2016):
But the continued detention of all the students on the party bus until all had been breathalyzed is another matter. We now hold, when government officials need to conduct breathalyzer or urine tests on students, the testing must be accomplished in a reasonably expeditious time period; once exonerated by the test, the student must be free to go. Like urine testing for drugs, breathalyzer testing for alcohol must be conducted quickly before the alcohol or drugs physiologically dissipate in the student’s system. See Schmerber v. California, 384 U.S. 757, 770, 86 S. Ct. 1826, 1835, 1836 (1966) (noting “the percentage of alcohol in the blood begins to diminish shortly after drinking stops, as the body functions to eliminate it from the system,” which presents the risk the “evidence may disappear unless there is an immediate search”). Delay in testing, certainly a substantial delay, would render an inaccurate result. Testing must be accomplished in an objectively reasonable time under the circumstances.
When a student is tested as alcohol or drug free, there is no justification for continuing to detain the student with such definitive exculpatory evidence. We conclude each student from the party bus who tested alcohol free reasonably should have been free to leave without being detained until all the students had been tested. After their being delayed for the breathalyzer testing, some no longer wanted to go to the Prom, which was about to end at midnight. Detaining a student after he or she was found to be alcohol free was not “reasonably related” to the reason for the detention “in the first place” of determining if the student passengers on the party bus had been drinking. T.L.O., 469 U.S. at 341, 105 S. Ct. at 743.