An Extension of the Special Needs Doctrine to Permit Drug Testing of Curfew Violators

The U.S. Supreme Court has determined that the government has a significant interest in protecting the welfare of minors. It has also recognized that children\'s constitutional rights are limited and that intrusions on those rights may be justified by \"compelling state interests.\" For instance, the \"special needs doctrine\" enables states to circumvent the warrant and probable cause requirements of the Fourth Amendment as applied to minors when certain requirements are met. Namely, the state must articulate a \"special need\" for the search or seizure, after which the court will balance the governmental interest against the individual\'s privacy interests. Under this doctrine, federal courts have upheld warrantless, suspicionless drug-testing programs as applied to certain groups of minors.The author argues that the strong governmental interest in caring for the welfare and development of minors provides a constitutional basis for curfew ordinances restricting a minor\'s freedom of movement during certain nighttime hours. In addition, she advocates for an extension of the \"special needs doctrine\" to permit, for the limited purpose of rehabilitation and treatment, drug testing of minors who voluntarily violate such ordinances.

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