Lawsuit filed over kids tested for alcohol in park

LIVONIA (AP) -- Teens celebrating graduation from eighth grade in suburban Detroit were illegally forced to take breath tests after repeatedly denying they were drinking alcohol in the woods, the American Civil Liberties Union said Tuesday in a lawsuit against police.

Five students from Discovery Middle School in Canton Township passed the breath test during a picnic in June. The lawsuit says parents were not contacted ahead of the test nor did Livonia officers get a warrant.

An assistant principal found an empty liquor bottle in the woods and wrongly suspected trouble, the ACLU said.

"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. "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."

Livonia police and the Plymouth-Canton school district declined to comment.

The lawsuit against Livonia was filed in federal court on behalf of a 13-year-old boy. It seeks a financial award and removal of the boy's name from police records.

"My son has always been taught to respect his educators and law enforcement," the boy's mother, Tina Barbee, said in a statement. "In June, he was taught a very different lesson: educators and police make mistakes. Although a wrong was done, I truly believe it can be made right."

Published: Thu, Sep 22, 2011