School Law: Drug Testing/Drug Charges

The adolescent brain functions differently from the fully, developed adult brain. In fact, the prefrontal cortex develops and matures until a person is approximately 25 years old. Since this area of the brain is responsible for logical decision making, teenagers sometimes make poor choices. One poor choice involves using illegal substances. In addition to an immature brain, peer pressure, experimentation, a desire to “escape” and other factors may lead young people to try alcohol or drugs. Whatever the cause, if your son or daughter is caught with drugs in a school zone, contact an experienced school offense attorney immediately.

What is a “School Zone”?

A school zone includes all school property and any area within 1000 feet of the school property. So, if you are less than 1000 feet from the school football field, parking lot, equipment shed, or ANY school property you are in a school zone. A school bus is also considered school property. Also, libraries are part of the school zone designation. Any drug use or dealing within 1000 feet of a school zone area receives enhanced penalties.

Do Schools Have a Legal Right to Check Students’ Lockers?

Yes. Lockers and desks are school property. School employees and the police may open and check lockers. The student or parent does not need to be notified. If the police find anything illegal in the locker they may seize the evidence. Michigan Compilation of School Discipline Laws and Regulations 380.1306 explains that school lockers have no presumption of privacy. The law further explains that schools will assist law enforcement. The Law does note that the student’s privacy rights should be respected regarding all legal material found in the locker. Also, each student and parent should have a copy of the school policy regarding this matter.

Do Schools Have the Authority to Drug Test Students?

Drug Test Results Form with a bottle and pen on top of the sheet

A 2002 Supreme Court ruling gave public schools the right to carry out random drug testing of students participating in extracurricular competitive activities. As a result, some schools have the constitutional right to drug test certain students. If a student tests positive, they may be prohibited from participating in the next athletic event. These results are not reported to law enforcement. It’s important that parents read the school’s Code of Conduct book and discuss it with their student.

Penalties for Drug Dealing in a School Zone

Drug dealing in a school zone is a serious crime. Penalties may double or triple due to the location. Section 333.7410 of the Michigan Public Health Code lists the penalties:

  • Two years in prison (possession with intent to sell)
  • Fine may be tripled
  • Three times the jail time (delivering a controlled substance)

Enhanced penalties occur due to the location of the crime. In other words, if you are within 1000 feet of a school zone you will receive the enhanced sentence. So, if your teenager is implicated in any drug dealing activity contact an experienced attorney immediately. Sometimes, young people are in the wrong place at the wrong time. Regardless, your adolescent will require legal help.

Marijuana Laws in Michigan

Young people falsely believe that marijuana is now “legal” and it’s OK to try it. Actually, some laws regarding marijuana use have NOT changed. In particular:

  • It is illegal for ANYONE to have marijuana in a school zone.
  • You can be charged if you have marijuana or marijuana accessories in a school zone.
  • Your school may suspend or expel you for possession. This may go on your school transcript and affect your future.

In summary, if your teenager is accused of possession of any illegal substance or if they are caught dealing drugs contact an experienced drug offense attorney immediately.

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