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Does Use of Over-the-Counter Meds Provide Grounds for Searching a Student?

Over-the-counter medications (OTC) offer quick, cheap, and convenient relief when you get the sniffles, need a caffeine pick-me-up, or are feeling achy. They get their name because they are available without a prescription from a doctor. The FDA has found OTCs to be safe and effective for use by consumers without the need to take them under supervision of a health care professional.

Still, OTC drugs are regulated by the FDA and local governments. Many have a high potential of abuse in significant quantities, and studies have shown that abuse can lead to use of dangerous controlled substances. ConsumerMedSafety.org reveals that teens and young adults in particular abuse OTC meds and herbals in violation of these regulations. In light of these issues and their duty to maintain a safe school environment, some schools resort to searching students for evidence of unlawful conduct or school policy.

Such a search would seem invasive in most situations. OTC meds are legal, and it seems far-fetched to think someone is engaging in unlawful conduct just for taking them, but schools have the ability to set their own district wide policies which can justify a search of a student by school personnel. There are many complicated issues at stake when it comes to the school setting, however, and an Illinois criminal defense attorney can explain in more detail. An overview may also be useful.

Permissibility of Student Searches

The issue of searching students regarding OTC medicines starts with a look at how searches work in the school context. Unless there is a warrant supported by probable cause, Section 6 of the Illinois Constitution’s Bill of Rights prohibits public officials from searching a person, home, and other designated places. The key issue for searches in general is whether there is a reasonable expectation of privacy.

A different standard applies for searching students on school grounds. By statute, the Illinois General Assembly has determined that students have no reasonable expectation of privacy in such areas as:

  • Lockers;
  • Desks;
  • Parking lots and garages; and,
  • Other school property owned, maintained, or controlled.

In addition, the law applies to the personal effects within in these areas, so backpacks, purses, jacket pockets, and related containers are subject to search. School officials do not need to provide notice or obtain the student’s consent, and they are not required to first obtain a warrant supported by probable cause.

Student Searches Related to Use of OTC Medications

Though the statutory language seems to provide school officials with immense power to search, students do have rights. The “reasonable suspicion” standard applies, which means that officials can conduct a search if they suspect that the student has or is violating the law.

School officials have the power to “maintain order and security in the schools” under Illinois law. If there is reasonable suspicion to believe that a student is violating school policies or state statutes, they can conduct a search. Examples might be:

  • Students who having an extremely large quantity, such as what could be used to get high;
  • Students exchanging money for OTC drugs; or,
  • Students using meds for purposes other than what is listed on the label.

Set up a Consultation with an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer in Illinois

Even OTC meds can give grounds for a search under certain circumstances, so it is important to understand your rights. For more information, please contact at Glasgow & Olsson to set up a consultation. You can reach our office by phone or checking out our website.

(image courtesy of Amanda Jones)

Vape Pens and Student Searches at School

Many people have turned to vape pens as an alternative to smoking tobacco, but the trend is also on the rise among students who use them to inhale marijuana and other controlled substances. Schools are cracking down on vaping by increasing the frequency and extent of school searches. This conduct raises constitutional questions regarding the limits of public officials because unlawful searches are prohibited by civil rights laws. Learn more from a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney who focuses on student searches at school, and read on for some important information.

Standards for Searching Students

Section 6 of the Bill of Rights within the Illinois Constitution states that people have the right to be secure in their persons and certain designated places. Therefore, searches that intrude upon that privacy are unlawful. In non-school searches, the key question is whether someone has a reasonable expectation of privacy.

Through a series of US Supreme Court and Illinois cases, the findings have established a lower standard for searches of students in the school setting. Instead of the “probable cause” standard and requirement to obtain a warrant, the critical factor is “reasonable suspicion.” Privacy is still a consideration, but this lowered standard means public officials – including school administrators, teachers, and other officials – can conduct searches that would normally be barred elsewhere.

The reason for the reasonable suspicion standard, as opposed to probable cause, is that the U.S. Supreme Court has recognized the need for schools to maintain a safe environment for students. This public policy outweighs a student’s right to be free from unlawful searches.

Vape Pen Use and Student Searches at School

Under the reasonable suspicion standard, courts look at two factors:

  • Whether the search was justified from the beginning: Here, the key is whether there are reasonable grounds to believe that the student is in violation of the law or school rules. In the specific context of vape pens, the student may be violating the law or school policy by inhaling THC-based “vape juice” or other controlled substances. If a school has implemented relevant rules, using a pen is a violation. If school officials have a reasonable suspicion regarding either scenario, the search would meet this part of the test.
  • Whether the search was reasonable in scope: With this factor, the focus is on whether the surrounding circumstances are related to the objectives of the search. Plus, the search cannot be excessively intrusive given the student’s age and gender. The nature of the alleged offense is also a consideration for reasonableness of the scope. Reasonable suspicion will vary greatly depending on the circumstances. According to a JAMA survey, one in 11 middle and high school students admit to vaping marijuana. This means school officials may have grounds to search students of almost any age. The nature of the alleged offense – a child using marijuana – is serious, which could also justify a search. Ultimately, the determination is case-specific.

Discuss Student Searches with an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer

For additional information on vape pens and school searches, please contact Glasgow & Olsson by phone or visit our website. We can provide more details on the relevant legal concepts and civil rights issues after conducting an initial consultation.

(image courtesy of Thomas Stephan)

The Complex Process of Illinois Driver’s License Reinstatement

Reinstating a revoked license in Illinois is an overly complicated process. Without the assistance of an experienced attorney, it can be nearly impossible to navigate the red tape. Some of the ways in which Illinois can revoke a driver’s license, the overly complicated process of getting a driver’s license reinstated and the benefits of obtaining a reinstated driver’s license are outlined below.

What Types of Offenses Result in a Revoked Driver’s License?

In Illinois, a driver’s license will be revoked when the driver is convicted of any of the following offenses:

  • Committing a felony while using a motor vehicle.
  • Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • Drag racing in a vehicle.
  • Fleeing a car accident that resulted in injury or death to a person.
  • Three reckless driving convictions within the same year.
  • Conviction of assault with a motor vehicle.

A license may also be revoked for lesser offenses. When a license is revoked, the state takes it away for a set amount of time, typically one, five, or 10 years. In some cases, you can end up with a lifetime revocation. In order to have a license reinstated after revocation, the driver must appear at a hearing in front of the Secretary of State of Illinois and pay a $500 fine.

Why is Getting a License Reinstated so Excessively Complicated?

The statutory requirements regarding driver’s licenses are tediously set forth in the Illinois Driver’s License Law (625 ILCS 5/Ch. 6). These laws set forth different requirements, fee amounts, re-eligibility date requirements, etc. The consequences and reinstatement eligibility dates often change depending on if the offense is the driver’s first, second, or third offense.

The rules for informal and formal hearings and timelines that determine when a driver may petition for a hearing are similarly complicated and fact dependent. At your formal hearing, you must offer both testimony and documentary evidence that you will be a safe and responsible driver.

Further, decisions about reinstatement are subject to the Administrative Review Law. Drivers may receive information about reinstatement that is not correct. A driver may call the Illinois Secretary of State and receive differing instructions depending on the employee due to the complicated nature of the process and the varying set of rules that apply to differing situations and client fact patterns. This is not a simple process in which a driver walks in, pays a fee, and leaves with an intact license.

What are the Benefits of Obtaining a Reinstated License?

Trying to live your life with a suspended or revoked driver’s license can be extremely difficult. Using unreliable public transportation, having to walk and/or paying for expensive Ubers or taxis will drain you of time and money. When your license is reinstated, you can drive with the knowledge that you are independently driving legally.

The process of reinstating one’s license can be fraught with complications. If you hire an attorney who is not experienced in the complex process of reinstatement, it could not only delay your reinstatement but derail a successful reinstatement entirely by an experienced lawyer in the future.

Attorney Thomas Glasgow has extensive experience with successful Illinois license reinstatements. Due to the diligence of him and his partner Stephanie Olsson over 1000 clients have had their driver’s license reinstated over the past 25 years of practice.

Contact our Schaumburg, Illinois license reinstatement attorneys today. Our lawyers represent clients throughout Cook, Lake, DuPage, McHenry, and Kane Counties, and we are available to tell you more about your legal options.

(image courtesy of Guillermo Sanchez)