LIVONIA, Mich. (WXYZ) - “I was appalled that could happen without me knowing it,” says Tina Barbee about a breath test administered to her son who, at the time, was just thirteen.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan has now filed a federal lawsuit today against the City of Livonia and the police officers who administered the breathalyzer to Barbee’s son and several other teenagers.
In June, Barbee’s son was visiting Livonia’s Rotary Park where he and other 8th grade students from Discovery Middle School in Canton were celebrating their class graduation at a picnic that was being sponsored by the school.
We’re told Barbee’s son and some friends walked into the woods for a short walk and when they returned, they were accused of drinking by the assistant principal after an empty liquor bottle was found on the ground in the woods.
ACLU attorneys say that despite the students’ assurances that they were not drinking and that the bottle did not belong to them, the principal called the police.
Livonia police arrived and administered breath tests to several of the teens and ACLU attorney says the results were negative for any alcohol.
“Federal and state courts have ruled over and over again that if a teen is not driving, the police need a search warrant to administer a breath test,” said ACLU attorney Dan Korobkin. “The Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement is designed to prevent exactly what happened in this case. When there is no evidence that a child has done anything wrong, he should never be subjected to this degrading and embarrassing procedure in front of his teachers and peers.”
Barbee tells Action News, “I just couldn’t believe that my son, who was thirteen at the time, could be subject to a breathalyzer without his father or I being notified.”
Livonia Police say they never received a complaint from any of those involved, but they are now investigating.
A spokesman for Plymouth-Canton Community Schools says they have been advised by counsel not to comment.
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