Vice Squad
Thursday, January 03, 2008
A Class Gift

Remember when previous graduating classes would donate a plaque or a water fountain or a bench to their old high school? How passe'. Southington High School in Connecticut has received a magic wand, that when waved in the vicinity of a student, reveals whether the potential miscreant has imbibed alcohol. The wand, the linked article notes, can be used for random tests!

Wand-like mechanisms are referred to as passive alcohol sensors. They are so passive that you can be tested for alcohol without even knowing that you are being tested. I am not sure if our Supreme Court will go along with that, however -- they seem to prefer big dogs providing more active searches for contraband. (For drugs, the accuracy of such dogs lends new meaning to the phrase "random search".) Here's a ten-page pdf that argues that such passive alcohol searches are constitutional when used in the context of traffic stops. And here is a touching tale about the use of drug-sniffing dogs in a Florida school district.

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