October 21, 2007
Michigan Statute Authorizing Breathalyzers on Minors Deemed Unconstitutional
In a case arising out of the Eastern District of Michigan, U.S. District Court Judge David M. Lawson issued a summary judgment opinion and order finding unconstitutional on its face -- as in violation of the Fourth Amendment -- a state statute authorizing law enforcement to compel minors (here, attending parties broken up by the police) to submit to breath tests for alcohol in the absence of a warrant or circumstances excusing their requirement. The court enjoined further enforcement of the statute.
Whether the plaintiffs' Fourth Amendment rights were violated as a matter of law, however, is yet to be determined, since fact questions remain as to the existence of any exigency.
As the law stood, a minor's refusal of the breath test could result in a civil infraction and a fine of up to $100.
Police now are only authorized to force people to submit to a breathalyzer test when operating a vehicle or in an emergency situation.
The case is Platte, et al. v. Thomas Township, et al. (Number 05-10200; 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 71241).