Petersen v. City of Mesa: Extinguishing Random, Suspicionless Drug Testing of Firefighters

The Arizona Supreme Court, in holding unconstitutional the random drug testing of city firefighters, placed great weight on two main factors. First, the court emphasized the lack of evidence concerning a real, identified substance abuse problem amongst members of Mesa’s Fire Department. Second, the random nature of the mandatory tests elevated the level of interference on the firefighters’ reasonable expectations of privacy. Notwithstanding the court’s decision, however, Mesa firefighters may still be subject to drug and alcohol testing pursuant to the Department’s substance abuse program; the first three provisions in the drug testing policy remain unchallenged after Petersen. Therefore, the City of Mesa will not be completely hindered from its goals of deterring drug and alcohol abuse by its firefighters and ensuring the public’s safety.