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Carmel HS breath testing draws criticism

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Chris Proffitt/Eyewitness News

Hamilton County - Carmel High School students going to Friday night's homecoming will all have to line up for a breathalyzer test before being admitted to the game.

School administrators says these tests are performed to create a safe environment for students, but legal experts are questioning whether the practice is an unreasonable search and therefore unconstitutional.

Friday will be a big celebration, but before students can enter the game, they will once again be forced to take a breathalyzer to detect alcohol. It's a policy school administrators implemented September 14th. Tests performed, according to the school's principal, not because of an increase in alcohol use, but because there is technology available to do it.

"This takes all the guess work out of it. There's really no reason not to do it," said Principal John Williams.

For two years, the school has breathalyzed students before prom and homecoming dances. Administrators say that so far, of all the students tested at football games, no one has tested positive for alcohol because if they were, they'd be arrested by police standing nearby. The American Civil Liberties Union says that Carmel's alcohol testing raises a fourth amendment issues because it involves the police.

"The constitutional issue seems to be fairly clear. These do not seem to be special needs type tests unrelated to law enforcement. They look like they're criminal searches," said Ken Falk, ACLU.

Student athletes testing positive for drugs or tobacco or alcohol are counseled, or disciplined but not arrested. Carmel students, however, say there is drinking at football games and some don't have a problem with the breath tests.

"I think if they wouldn't have; a lot more people would have come drunk to the game because usually a lot of people do," said student Taylor Fisher.

While nearly every central Indiana high school uses breathalyzer tests at games if they have reasonable suspicion that students have been drinking, Carmel appears alone in its policy that tests every students who wants to watch a football game.

However, adults are not tested, something the ACLU calls curious. Asked if the breathalyzer tests are a permanent fixture at games, the principal say the policy will continued to be reviewed.