Breathalyzer tests given to high school students before dance

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - The Calcasieu Parish School Board had adopted a policy in 2008 that allows school administrators, who are trained by the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Office, to administer breathalyzers to students.

CPSO Enforcement Commander, James McGee says, "About four to five years ago, we were getting a lot of incidences happening at schools during prom, homecoming and different high school dances. The Sheriff came up with the idea of us providing breathalyzers to the schools".

McGee says the Sheriff's office received a grant from the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission.  The grant pays for the breathalyzer machines along with mouthpieces and any other equipment needed to administer the test.

It is up to the discretion of each school administrator whether or not to administer the breathalyzer tests.

Before students are asked to blow into the machine, they are required to have a signed consent form from their parent. In most (if not all) cases, the consent form must be signed before a school dance ticket is purchased. When the student arrives for the dance, they will be given the breathalyzer exam which must read 000. If the test reads anything above a 000 (albeit there are a few exceptions), parents of the students will be called to pick up their child.

Alcohol based mouthwash, gum, mints and cough syrup can affect the test results. Students are asked to discard anything in their mouths prior to blowing into the machine. As far as medication, students and parents may need to contact their respective schools or CPSO for further clarification.

Barbe High School's Principal Beth Fraser plans on administering the breathalyzer tests at any and all dances her school may host. Fraser is gearing up for Barbe High School's homecoming dance which takes place October 1st.

Meanwhile, Washington Marion Magnet High School's Principal Robert Pete says, his school will not be administering breathalyzers at this year's homecoming (September 30th). However, Pete says he wholeheartedly supports the policy and has administered the tests in the past. Pete's next plans on administering the breathalyzer test will be for the dance following the last game of Washington Marion's football season.

CPSO officials want other Louisiana area Parish officials to know that although the policy is just Calcasieu Parish wide, the CPSO will be more than happy to lend their breathalyzer equipment for the cause of keeping children safe.