Prom and graduation season are almost here again, and along with the exciting preparation comes the need to put together an action plan so everyone who attends can stay safe while having a good time. For some schools, part of that action plan has been to utilize breathalyzer devices at the door of student events in order to prevent underage drinking and underage drinking and driving, and for the most part people have been in favor of using them.
Northern Secondary School principal Ron Felsen supported in school breathalyzers for his school’s senior dance in 2014, and he decided to make taking a breathalyzer mandatory for entry. Designed to stop students from drinking while attending school events, school administrators have been using them as a concrete way to assess a student’s possible intoxication level and penalize them accordingly. It’s a simple concept: if they drink, they don’t receive the privilege to attend the dance.
But two Ontario teens who attend the school took exception to having to forcibly submit to the breathalyzer at the door, and after looking up information in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, took their case to the courts.
Based on the search and seizure statue, the Ontario judge presiding over the case ruled in their favor based on the fact that the mandatory breathalyzer “infringes the right of high school students to be free from unreasonable search or seizure as protected under Section 8 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”
On one hand, you can see that the principal is attempting to keep teens safe by not allowing them to participate in underage drinking. On the other, there are personal rights every person is entitled to just because they live in Canada. Odds are this isn’t the last we’ll see about the prom breathalyzer debate.
Do you think asking teens to submit to breathalyzers, especially when they aren’t of legal drink age, is an infringement of rights?