According to a recent news post, Florida taxpayers may be on the hook for more than $1.5 million in legal fees, including $1 million to civil rights lawyers—thanks to Governor Rick Scott’s failed push to force welfare applicants to take drug tests before receiving their benefits.
In early June, the state had agreed to pay $600,000 to the Florida Justice Institute and the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, which represented a single father that sued the Department of Children and Families over his 2011 welfare case and drug testing law.
The federal court of appeals had decided in December that suspicionless drug testing—meaning tests performed without any reasonable amount of suspicion—for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) is a violation of individuals constitutional rights and a clear violation of their Fourth Amendment protections. After the ruling, the governor walked away from the lawsuit.
The Costs Keep Adding Up
The costs associated with this lawsuit are adding up and it is not the state that will pay, taxpayers will also have to help foot the bill for the state’s gross violation of civil liberties. The drug testing law exploited stereotypes regarding poor people and was not only insulting to those who were required to take a test, but the rest of the state as well as the agencies supporting those in need.
There are numerous costs that will need to be recovered, including lawyers’ fees, the cost of inadequate witnesses at trial, and more.
It’s Not the Only Lawsuit
Scott was also sued by the ACLU for forcing Florida government employees to undergo suspicionless drug testing as part of their employment. He ordered all workers in agencies under his control as well as job applicants to take random drug screenings. The judge ruled that Scott could not constitutionally justify his tests, especially for all employees and without reason. The appeals court has already ordered Scott to come up with a reasonable list of jobs that can be tested regularly by means of random drug tests.
Suspicionless Drug Tests are Used by Police, Too
Unfortunately, this is the most public story regarding suspicionless drug testing, but it has occurred for years in police stations around the state. Individuals are subjected to tests during routine arrests only to then be charged with drug-related crimes. This news story highlights the clear violation of individuals’ rights.
Were You Subjected to a Drug Test without Cause?
If so, contact the Miami, FL criminal defense attorneys at Anderson, O’Sullivan & Associates today. We can help you with your criminal case and work to prove that your Fourth Amendment rights were violated. Call us now for a free consultation at 305-964-8707 or visit our office in Miami, Florida.