ACLU of Wyoming Lawsuit Over Sobriety Program Gets Hearing
On Friday, the U.S. District Court in Casper will hear a case, Marx v. Hill et al, challenging Wyoming’s 24/7 Sobriety Program and its application in Teton County.
The ACLU of Wyoming is representing the plaintiffs in the case, Alfredo Guillermo Sanchez and David Ball, previous program participants, and Sean Marx, a current participant in the program, according to a press release from the ACLU, and also includes all other pretrial participants.
Originally created by a 2014 state law, the sobriety program allows a judge to mandate a breathalyzer twice daily for those awaiting trial on alcohol charges and requires people being tested to pay $2 per test.
The lawsuit alleges that from October to December 2021, 66 people in Teton County participated in the program, which resulted in 2,105 breathalyzer tests being performed, with Ball and Sanchez doing the tests over the course of three weeks and four months respectively, totaling just under 300 tests.
Stephanie Amiotte, ACLU of Wyoming legal director, said:
"Pretrial participants in Wyoming’s 24/7 Sobriety Program should be presumed innocent until proven guilty and are entitled to due process and meaningful hearings," Amiotte said. "Any law that allows the warrantless search of people without probable cause to believe they’ve committed a crime violates the Constitution and cannot stand. We hope the court will recognize that the 24/7 Program, as applied in Teton County, is a gross overreach of government power."
According to the case filed by the ACLU on March 7, the searches are constitutional violations when applied to people who haven’t yet been convicted of a crime and violate the Fourth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments, as well as a person's right to due process.
Part of that violation, as the lawsuit filed by the ACLU of Wyoming alleges, is that the Teton County Sheriff's Office arrests participants if they are late to testing by 30 minutes or are slightly late three times, both without an arrest warrant.
The lawsuit also claims that in order for the people that participate in the program to be released from jail, they are required to sign a participation form signing up for the sobriety program.
Jessica Curless, a paralegal with Wyoming's Attorney General's Office, said that they do not comment on pending litigation.