More Iowa high school students are being tested for alcohol or illegal drug use when they attend prom or other school sponsored events. Carol Greta, an attorney with the Iowa Department of Education, says her agency does not keep track of districts in the state that are using the technology.
"I don’t know how many schools are taking advantage of the Breathalyzer and similar tools, but I do know that there are more and more of these instruments being marketed to school officials," Greta said. "They really are a great tool for school officials to use when they use them wisely."
Police will often loan Breathalyzers to the schools at no charge. Greta says the devices are legal under Iowa’s Search and Seizure code, but they can not be used for random testing. Greta says Breatalyzers or similar tools can only be used if school officials have "reasonable suspicion" that a student is under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
This week, school officials in Mason City approved the use of an Intoximeter test on students entering this spring’s prom. Greta says the Intoximeter appears to be a popular and reliable device.
"If it’s not a product that is in regular use by law enforcement, I would discourage school districts and non-public schools from using it," Greta said. "Schools just need to be careful as to what product they purchase so that it does indeed work when the schools need it to work."
In some cases, schools that catch kids with alcohol or other drugs in their system call the teen’s parent to come pick them up. Some schools choose to call police and issue citations.