The Supreme Court of Washington State has issued a major decision calling urinalysis tests unconstitutional. The decision came after three individuals were charged with a DUI in Spokane County.
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. That’s when the case was taken to the state’s Supreme Court which reversed that decision according to the Associated Press.
“Urinalysis is at least as invasive as a roadblock or a pat-down search,” the court said. The 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
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.
In two 1989 decisions, the United States Supreme Court ruled the exact opposite, stating that no warrant or even suspicion was necessary to demand a urine test. Those decisions were made in relation to employees who operate trains, work with drugs or are expected to carry a firearm.
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