The Federal Railroad Safety Act of 1970 authorizes the Secretary of Transportation to "prescribe, as necessary, appropriate rules, regulations, orders, and standards for all areas of railroad safety." 84 Stat. 971, 45 U. S. C. § 431(a). Finding that alcohol and drug abuse by railroad employees poses a serious threat to safety, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has promulgated regulations that mandate blood and urine tests of employees who are involved in certain train accidents. The FRA also has adopted regulations that do not require, but do authorize, railroads to administer breath and urine tests to employees who violate certain safety rules. The question presented by this case is whether these regulations violate the Fourth Amendment.
The problem of alcohol use on American railroads is as old as the industry itself, and efforts to deter it by carrier rules began at least a century ago. For many years, railroads have prohibited operating employees from possessing alcohol or being intoxicated while on duty and from consuming alcoholic beverages while subject to being called for duty. More recently, these proscriptions have been expanded to forbid possession or use of certain drugs. These restrictions are
In July 1983, the FRA expressed concern that these industry efforts were not adequate to curb alcohol and drug abuse by railroad employees. The FRA pointed to evidence indicating that on-the-job intoxication was a significant problem in the railroad industry.
Comments submitted in response to this request indicated that railroads were able to detect a relatively small number of Rule G violations, owing, primarily, to their practice of
After reviewing further comments from representatives of the railroad industry, labor groups, and the general public, the FRA, in 1985, promulgated regulations addressing the problem of alcohol and drugs on the railroads. The final regulations apply to employees assigned to perform service subject to the Hours of Service Act, ch. 2939, 34 Stat. 1415, as amended, 45 U. S. C. § 61 et seq. The regulations prohibit covered employees from using or possessing alcohol or any controlled substance. 49 CFR § 219.101(a)(1) (1987). The regulations further prohibit those employees from reporting for covered service while under the influence of, or
To the extent pertinent here, two subparts of the regulations relate to testing. Subpart C, which is entitled "Post-Accident Toxicological Testing," is mandatory. It provides that railroads "shall take all practicable steps to assure that all covered employees of the railroad directly involved . . . provide blood and urine samples for toxicological testing by FRA," § 219.203(a), upon the occurrence of certain specified events. Toxicological testing is required following a "major train accident," which is defined as any train accident that involves (i) a fatality, (ii) the release of hazardous material accompanied by an evacuation or a reportable injury, or (iii) damage to railroad property of $500,000 or more. § 219.201 (a)(1). The railroad has the further duty of collecting blood and urine samples for testing after an "impact accident," which is defined as a collision that results in a reportable injury, or in damage to railroad property of $50,000 or more. § 219.201(a)(2). Finally, the railroad is also obligated to test after "[a]ny train incident that involves a fatality to any on-duty railroad employee." § 219.201(a)(3).
After occurrence of an event which activates its duty to test, the railroad must transport all crew members and other covered employees directly involved in the accident or incident to an independent medical facility, where both blood and urine samples must be obtained from each employee.
The regulations require that the FRA notify employees of the results of the tests and afford them an opportunity to respond in writing before preparation of any final investigative report. See § 219.211(a)(2). Employees who refuse to provide required blood or urine samples may not perform covered
Subpart D of the regulations, which is entitled "Authorization to Test for Cause," is permissive. It authorizes railroads to require covered employees to submit to breath or urine tests in certain circumstances not addressed by Subpart C. Breath or urine tests, or both, may be ordered (1) after a reportable accident or incident, where a supervisor has a "reasonable suspicion" that an employee's acts or omissions contributed to the occurrence or severity of the accident or incident, § 219.301(b)(2); or (2) in the event of certain specific rule violations, including noncompliance with a signal and excessive speeding, § 219.301(b)(3). A railroad also may require breath tests where a supervisor has a "reasonable suspicion" that an employee is under the influence of alcohol, based upon specific, personal observations concerning the appearance, behavior, speech, or body odors of the employee. § 219.301(b)(1). Where impairment is suspected, a railroad, in addition, may require urine tests, but only if two supervisors make the appropriate determination, § 219.301(c)(2)(i), and, where the supervisors suspect impairment due to a substance other than alcohol, at least one of those supervisors must have received specialized training in detecting the signs of drug intoxication, § 219.301(c)(2)(ii).
Subpart D further provides that whenever the results of either breath or urine tests are intended for use in a disciplinary proceeding, the employee must be given the opportunity to provide a blood sample for analysis at an independent medical facility. § 219.303(c). If an employee declines to give a blood sample, the railroad may presume impairment, absent persuasive evidence to the contrary, from a positive showing of controlled substance residues in the urine. The railroad must, however, provide detailed notice of this presumption to its employees, and advise them of their right to provide a contemporaneous blood sample. As in the case of samples procured under Subpart C, the regulations set forth
Respondents, the Railway Labor Executives' Association and various of its member labor organizations, brought the instant suit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, seeking to enjoin the FRA's regulations on various statutory and constitutional grounds. In a ruling from the bench, the District Court granted summary judgment in petitioners' favor. The court concluded that railroad employees "have a valid interest in the integrity of their own bodies" that deserved protection under the Fourth Amendment. App. to Pet. for Cert. 53a. The court held, however, that this interest was outweighed by the competing "public and governmental interest in the . . . promotion of. . . railway safety, safety for employees, and safety for the general public that is involved with the transportation." Id., at 52a. The District Court found respondents' other constitutional and statutory arguments meritless.
A divided panel of the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed. Railway Labor Executives' Assn. v. Burnley, 839 F.2d 575 (1988). The court held, first, that tests mandated by a railroad in reliance on the authority conferred by Subpart D involve sufficient Government action to implicate the Fourth Amendment, and that the breath, blood, and urine tests contemplated by the FRA regulations are Fourth Amendment searches. The court also "agre[ed] that the exigencies of testing for the presence of alcohol and drugs in blood, urine or breath require prompt action which precludes obtaining a warrant." Id., at 583. The court further held that "accommodation of railroad employees' privacy interest with the significant safety concerns of the government does not require adherence to a probable cause requirement," and, accordingly, that the legality of the searches contemplated by
The court concluded, however, that particularized suspicion is essential to a finding that toxicological testing of railroad employees is reasonable. Ibid. A requirement of individualized suspicion, the court stated, would impose "no insuperable burden on the government," id., at 588, and would ensure that the tests are confined to the detection of current impairment, rather than to the discovery of "the metabolites of various drugs, which are not evidence of current intoxication and may remain in the body for days or weeks after the ingestion of the drug." Id., at 588-589. Except for the provisions authorizing breath and urine tests on a "reasonable suspicion" of drug or alcohol impairment, 49 CFR §§ 219.301(b)(1) and (c)(2) (1987), the FRA regulations did not require a showing of individualized suspicion, and, accordingly, the court invalidated them.
Judge Alarcon dissented. He criticized the majority for "fail[ing] to engage in [a] balancing of interests" and for focusing instead "solely on the degree of impairment of the workers' privacy interests." 839 F. 2d, at 597. The dissent would have held that "the government's compelling need to assure railroad safety by controlling drug use among railway personnel outweighs the need to protect privacy interests." Id., at 596.
We granted the federal parties' petition for a writ of certiorari, 486 U.S. 1042 (1988), to consider whether the regulations invalidated by the Court of Appeals violate the Fourth Amendment. We now reverse.
The Fourth Amendment provides that "[t]he right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated . . . ." The Amendment guarantees the privacy, dignity, and security of persons against certain arbitrary
Although the Fourth Amendment does not apply to a search or seizure, even an arbitrary one, effected by a private party on his own initiative, the Amendment protects against such intrusions if the private party acted as an instrument or agent of the Government. See United States v. Jacobsen, 466 U.S. 109, 113-114 (1984); Coolidge v. New Hampshire, 403 U.S. 443, 487 (1971). See also Burdeau v. McDowell, 256 U.S. 465, 475 (1921). A railroad that complies with the provisions of Subpart C of the regulations does so by compulsion of sovereign authority, and the lawfulness of its acts is controlled by the Fourth Amendment. Petitioners contend, however, that the Fourth Amendment is not implicated by Subpart D of the regulations, as nothing in Subpart D compels any testing by private railroads.
We are unwilling to conclude, in the context of this facial challenge, that breath and urine tests required by private railroads in reliance on Subpart D will not implicate the Fourth Amendment. Whether a private party should be deemed an agent or instrument of the Government for Fourth Amendment purposes necessarily turns on the degree of the Government's participation in the private party's activities, cf. Lustig v. United States, 338 U.S. 74, 78-79 (1949) (plurality opinion); Byars v. United States, 273 U.S. 28, 32-33 (1927), a question that can only be resolved "in light of all the circumstances," Coolidge v. New Hampshire, supra,
The regulations, including those in Subpart D, pre-empt state laws, rules, or regulations covering the same subject matter, 49 CFR § 219.13(a) (1987), and are intended to supersede "any provision of a collective bargaining agreement, or arbitration award construing such an agreement," 50 Fed. Reg. 31552 (1985). They also confer upon the FRA the right to receive certain biological samples and test results procured by railroads pursuant to Subpart D. § 219.11(c). In addition, a railroad may not divest itself of, or otherwise compromise by contract, the authority conferred by Subpart D. As the FRA explained, such "authority . . . is conferred for the purpose of promoting the public safety, and a railroad may not shackle itself in a way inconsistent with its duty to promote the public safety." 50 Fed. Reg. 31552 (1985). Nor is a covered employee free to decline his employer's request to submit to breath or urine tests under the conditions set forth in Subpart D. See § 219.11(b). An employee who refuses to submit to the tests must be withdrawn from covered service. See 4 App. to Field Manual 18.
In light of these provisions, we are unwilling to accept petitioners' submission that tests conducted by private railroads in reliance on Subpart D will be primarily the result of private initiative. The Government has removed all legal barriers to the testing authorized by Subpart D, and indeed has made plain not only its strong preference for testing, but also its desire to share the fruits of such intrusions. In addition, it has mandated that the railroads not bargain away the authority to perform tests granted by Subpart D. These are clear indices of the Government's encouragement, endorsement,
Our precedents teach that where, as here, the Government seeks to obtain physical evidence from a person, the Fourth Amendment may be relevant at several levels. See, e. g., United States v. Dionisio, 410 U.S. 1, 8 (1973). The initial detention necessary to procure the evidence may be a seizure of the person, Cupp v. Murphy, 412 U.S. 291, 294-295 (1973); Davis v. Mississippi, 394 U.S. 721, 726-727 (1969), if the detention amounts to a meaningful interference with his freedom of movement. INS v. Delgado, 466 U.S. 210, 215 (1984); United States v. Jacobsen, supra, at 113, n. 5. Obtaining and examining the evidence may also be a search, see Cupp v. Murphy, supra, at 295; United States v. Dionisio, supra, at 8, 13-14, if doing so infringes an expectation of privacy that society is prepared to recognize as reasonable, see, e. g., California v. Greenwood, 486 U.S. 35, 43 (1988); United States v. Jacobsen, supra, at 113.
We have long recognized that a "compelled intrusio[n] into the body for blood to be analyzed for alcohol content" must be deemed a Fourth Amendment search. See Schmerber v. California, 384 U.S. 757, 767-768 (1966). See also Winston v. Lee, 470 U.S. 753, 760 (1985). In light of our society's concern for the security of one's person, see, e. g., Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 9 (1968), it is obvious that this physical intrusion, penetrating beneath the skin, infringes an expectation of privacy that society is prepared to recognize as reasonable. The ensuing chemical analysis of the sample to obtain physiological data is a further invasion of the tested employee's privacy interests. Cf. Arizona v. Hicks, 480 U.S. 321, 324-325 (1987). Much the same is true of the breath-testing procedures required under Subpart D of the regulations. Subjecting a person to a breathalyzer test, which generally requires the production of alveolar or "deep lung" breath for chemical analysis, see, e. g., California v.
Unlike the blood-testing procedure at issue in Schmerber, the procedures prescribed by the FRA regulations for collecting and testing urine samples do not entail a surgical intrusion into the body. It is not disputed, however, that chemical analysis of urine, like that of blood, can reveal a host of private medical facts about an employee, including whether he or she is epileptic, pregnant, or diabetic. Nor can it be disputed that the process of collecting the sample to be tested, which may in some cases involve visual or aural monitoring of the act of urination, itself implicates privacy interests. As the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has stated:
Because it is clear that the collection and testing of urine intrudes upon expectations of privacy that society has long recognized as reasonable, the Federal Courts of Appeals have concluded unanimously, and we agree, that these intrusions must be deemed searches under the Fourth Amendment.
To hold that the Fourth Amendment is applicable to the drug and alcohol testing prescribed by the FRA regulations
In most criminal cases, we strike this balance in favor of the procedures described by the Warrant Clause of the Fourth Amendment. See United States v. Place, supra, at 701, and n. 2; United States v. United States District Court, 407 U.S. 297, 315 (1972). Except in certain well-defined circumstances, a search or seizure in such a case is not reasonable unless it is accomplished pursuant to a judicial warrant issued upon probable cause. See, e. g., Payton v. New York, 445 U.S. 573, 586 (1980); Mincey v. Arizona, 437 U.S. 385, 390 (1978). We have recognized exceptions to this rule, however, "when `special needs, beyond the normal need for law enforcement, make the warrant and probable-cause requirement impracticable.' " Griffin v. Wisconsin, 483 U.S. 868, 873 (1987), quoting New Jersey v. T. L. O., supra, at 351 (BLACKMUN, J., concurring in judgment). When faced with such special needs, we have not hesitated to balance the governmental and privacy interests to assess the practicality of the warrant and probable-cause requirements in the particular context. See, e. g., Griffin v. Wisconsin, supra, at 873 (search of probationer's home); New York v.
The Government's interest in regulating the conduct of railroad employees to ensure safety, like its supervision of probationers or regulated industries, or its operation of a government office, school, or prison, "likewise presents `special needs' beyond normal law enforcement that may justify departures from the usual warrant and probable-cause requirements." Griffin v. Wisconsin, supra, at 873-874. The hours of service employees covered by the FRA regulations include persons engaged in handling orders concerning train movements, operating crews, and those engaged in the maintenance and repair of signal systems. 50 Fed. Reg. 31511 (1985). It is undisputed that these and other covered employees are engaged in safety-sensitive tasks. The FRA so found, and respondents conceded the point at oral argument. Tr. of Oral Arg. 46-47. As we have recognized, the whole premise of the Hours of Service Act is that "[t]he length of hours of service has direct relation to the efficiency of the human agencies upon which protection [of] life and property necessarily depends." Baltimore & Ohio R. Co. v. ICC, 221 U.S. 612, 619 (1911). See also Atchison, T. & S. F. R. Co. v. United States, 244 U.S. 336, 342 (1917) ("[I]t must be remembered that the purpose of the act was to prevent the dangers which must necessarily arise to the employee and to the public from continuing men in a dangerous and hazardous business for periods so long as to render them unfit to give that service which is essential to the protection of themselves and those entrusted to their care").
The FRA has prescribed toxicological tests, not to assist in the prosecution of employees, but rather "to prevent accidents
An essential purpose of a warrant requirement is to protect privacy interests by assuring citizens subject to a search
The Government's need to rely on private railroads to set the testing process in motion also indicates that insistence on a warrant requirement would impede the achievement of the Government's objective. Railroad supervisors, like school officials, see New Jersey v. T. L. O., supra, at 339-340, and hospital administrators, see O'Connor v. Ortega, 480 U. S., at 722, are not in the business of investigating violations of the criminal laws or enforcing administrative codes, and otherwise have little occasion to become familiar with the intricacies of this Court's Fourth Amendment jurisprudence. "Imposing unwieldy warrant procedures . . . upon supervisors,
In sum, imposing a warrant requirement in the present context would add little to the assurances of certainty and regularity already afforded by the regulations, while significantly hindering, and in many cases frustrating, the objectives of the Government's testing program. We do not believe that a warrant is essential to render the intrusions here at issue reasonable under the Fourth Amendment.
Our cases indicate that even a search that may be performed without a warrant must be based, as a general matter, on probable cause to believe that the person to be searched has violated the law. See New Jersey v. T. L. O., supra, at 340. When the balance of interests precludes insistence on a showing of probable cause, we have usually required "some quantum of individualized suspicion" before concluding that a search is reasonable. See, e. g., United States v. Martinez-Fuerte, 428 U. S., at 560. We made it clear, however, that a showing of individualized suspicion is not a constitutional floor, below which a search must be presumed unreasonable. Id., at 561. In limited circumstances, where the privacy interests implicated by the search are minimal, and where an important governmental interest furthered by the intrusion would be placed in jeopardy by a requirement of individualized suspicion, a search may be reasonable despite the absence of such suspicion. We believe this is true of the intrusions in question here.
By and large, intrusions on privacy under the FRA regulations are limited. To the extent transportation and like restrictions are necessary to procure the requisite blood, breath, and urine samples for testing, this interference alone is minimal given the employment context in which it takes place. Ordinarily, an employee consents to significant restrictions in his freedom of movement where necessary for
Our decision in Schmerber v. California, supra, indicates that the same is true of the blood tests required by the FRA regulations. In that case, we held that a State could direct that a blood sample be withdrawn from a motorist suspected of driving while intoxicated, despite his refusal to consent to the intrusion. We noted that the test was performed in a reasonable manner, as the motorist's "blood was taken by a physician in a hospital environment according to accepted medical practices." Id., at 771. We said also that the intrusion occasioned by a blood test is not significant, since such "tests are a commonplace in these days of periodic physical examinations and experience with them teaches that the quantity of blood extracted is minimal, and that for most people the procedure involves virtually no risk, trauma, or pain." Ibid. Schmerber thus confirmed "society's judgment that blood tests do not constitute an unduly extensive imposition on an individual's privacy and bodily integrity." Winston v. Lee, 470 U. S., at 762. See also South Dakota v. Neville, 459 U.S. 553, 563 (1983) ("The simple blood-alcohol test is . . . safe, painless, and commonplace"); Breithaupt v. Abram, 352 U.S. 432, 436 (1957) ("The blood test procedure has become routine in our everyday life").
The breath tests authorized by Subpart D of the regulations are even less intrusive than the blood tests prescribed by Subpart C. Unlike blood tests, breath tests do not require piercing the skin and may be conducted safely outside a hospital environment and with a minimum of inconvenience or embarrassment. Further, breath tests reveal the level of alcohol in the employee's bloodstream and nothing more.
A more difficult question is presented by urine tests. Like breath tests, urine tests are not invasive of the body and, under the regulations, may not be used as an occasion for inquiring into private facts unrelated to alcohol or drug use.
More importantly, the expectations of privacy of covered employees are diminished by reason of their participation in an industry that is regulated pervasively to ensure safety, a goal dependent, in substantial part, on the health and fitness of covered employees. This relation between safety and employee fitness was recognized by Congress when it enacted the Hours of Service Act in 1907, Baltimore & Ohio R. Co. v. ICC, 221 U. S., at 619, and also when it authorized the Secretary to "test . . . railroad facilities, equipment, rolling stock, operations, or persons, as he deems necessary to carry out the provisions" of the Federal Railroad Safety Act of 1970. 45 U. S. C. § 437(a) (emphasis added). It has also been recognized by state governments,
We do not suggest, of course, that the interest in bodily security enjoyed by those employed in a regulated industry must always be considered minimal. Here, however, the covered employees have long been a principal focus of regulatory concern. As the dissenting judge below noted: "The reason is obvious. An idle locomotive, sitting in the round-house, is harmless. It becomes lethal when operated negligently by persons who are under the influence of alcohol or drugs." 839 F. 2d, at 593. Though some of the privacy interests implicated by the toxicological testing at issue reasonably might be viewed as significant in other contexts, logic and history show that a diminished expectation of privacy attaches to information relating to the physical condition of covered employees and to this reasonable means of procuring such information. We conclude, therefore, that the testing procedures contemplated by Subparts C and D pose only limited threats to the justifiable expectations of privacy of covered employees.
By contrast, the Government interest in testing without a showing of individualized suspicion is compelling. Employees subject to the tests discharge duties fraught with such risks of injury to others that even a momentary lapse of attention can have disastrous consequences. Much like persons who have routine access to dangerous nuclear power facilities, see, e. g., Rushton v. Nebraska Public Power Dist., 844 F.2d 562, 566 (CA8 1988); Alverado v. Washington Public Power Supply System, 111 Wn.2d 424, 436, 759 P.2d 427, 433-434 (1988), cert. pending, No. 88-645, employees who are subject to testing under the FRA regulations can cause great human loss before any signs of impairment become noticeable to supervisors or others. An impaired employee, the FRA found, will seldom display any outward "signs detectable by the lay person or, in many cases, even the physician." 50 Fed. Reg. 31526 (1985). This view finds
While no procedure can identify all impaired employees with ease and perfect accuracy, the FRA regulations supply an effective means of deterring employees engaged in safety-sensitive tasks from using controlled substances or alcohol in the first place. 50 Fed. Reg. 31541 (1985). The railroad industry's experience with Rule G persuasively shows, and common sense confirms, that the customary dismissal sanction
The testing procedures contemplated by Subpart C also help railroads obtain invaluable information about the causes of major accidents, see 50 Fed. Reg. 31541 (1985), and to take appropriate measures to safeguard the general public. Cf. Michigan v. Tyler, 436 U.S. 499, 510 (1978) (noting that prompt investigation of the causes of a fire may uncover continuing dangers and thereby prevent the fire's recurrence); Michigan v. Clifford, 464 U.S. 287, 308 (1984) (REHNQUIST, J., dissenting) (same). Positive test results would point toward drug or alcohol impairment on the part of members of the crew as a possible cause of an accident, and may help to establish whether a particular accident, otherwise not drug related, was made worse by the inability of impaired employees to respond appropriately. Negative test results would likewise furnish invaluable clues, for eliminating drug impairment as a potential cause or contributing factor would help establish the significance of equipment failure, inadequate training, or other potential causes, and suggest a more thorough examination of these alternatives. Tests performed following the rule violations specified in Subpart D likewise can provide valuable information respecting the causes of those transgressions, which the FRA found to involve "the potential for a serious train accident or grave personal injury, or both." 50 Fed. Reg. 31553 (1985).
Without quarreling with the importance of these governmental interests, the Court of Appeals concluded that the postaccident testing regulations were unreasonable because "[b]lood and urine tests intended to establish drug use other than alcohol . . . cannot measure current drug intoxication or degree of impairment." 839 F. 2d, at 588. The court based its conclusion on its reading of certain academic journals that indicate that the testing of urine can disclose only drug metabolites, which "may remain in the body for days or weeks after the ingestion of the drug." Id., at 589. We find this analysis flawed for several reasons.
As we emphasized in New Jersey v. T. L. O., "it is universally recognized that evidence, to be relevant to an inquiry, need not conclusively prove the ultimate fact in issue, but
More importantly, the Court of Appeals overlooked the FRA's policy of placing principal reliance on the results of blood tests, which unquestionably can identify very recent drug use, see, e. g., 49 Fed. Reg. 24291 (1984), while relying on urine tests as a secondary source of information designed to guard against the possibility that certain drugs will be eliminated from the bloodstream before a blood sample can be obtained. The court also failed to recognize that the FRA regulations are designed not only to discern impairment but also to deter it. Because the record indicates that blood and urine tests, taken together, are highly effective means of ascertaining on-the-job impairment and of deterring the use of drugs by railroad employees, we believe the Court of Appeals erred in concluding that the postaccident testing regulations are not reasonably related to the Government objectives that support them.
The possession of unlawful drugs is a criminal offense that the Government may punish, but it is a separate and far more dangerous wrong to perform certain sensitive tasks while under the influence of those substances. Performing those tasks while impaired by alcohol is, of course, equally dangerous, though consumption of alcohol is legal in most other contexts. The Government may take all necessary and reasonable regulatory steps to prevent or deter that hazardous conduct, and since the gravamen of the evil is performing certain functions while concealing the substance in the body, it may be necessary, as in the case before us, to examine the body or its fluids to accomplish the regulatory purpose. The necessity to perform that regulatory function with respect to railroad employees engaged in safety-sensitive tasks, and the reasonableness of the system for doing so, have been established in this case.
Alcohol and drug tests conducted in reliance on the authority of Subpart D cannot be viewed as private action outside the reach of the Fourth Amendment. Because the testing procedures mandated or authorized by Subparts C and D effect
It is so ordered.
In my opinion the public interest in determining the causes of serious railroad accidents adequately supports the validity of the challenged regulations. I am not persuaded, however, that the interest in deterring the use of alcohol or drugs is either necessary or sufficient to justify the searches authorized by these regulations.
I think it a dubious proposition that the regulations significantly deter the use of alcohol and drugs by hours of service employees. Most people — and I would think most railroad employees as well — do not go to work with the expectation that they may be involved in a major accident, particularly one causing such catastrophic results as loss of life or the release of hazardous material requiring an evacuation. Moreover, even if they are conscious of the possibilities that such an accident might occur and that alcohol or drug use might be a contributing factor, if the risk of serious personal injury does not deter their use of these substances, it seems highly unlikely that the additional threat of loss of employment would have any effect on their behavior.
JUSTICE MARSHALL, with whom JUSTICE BRENNAN joins, dissenting.
The issue in this case is not whether declaring a war on illegal drugs is good public policy. The importance of ridding our society of such drugs is, by now, apparent to all. Rather, the issue here is whether the Government's deployment in that war of a particularly Draconian weapon — the compulsory collection and chemical testing of railroad workers' blood and urine — comports with the Fourth Amendment. Precisely because the need for action against the drug scourge is manifest, the need for vigilance against unconstitutional excess is great. History teaches that grave threats to liberty often come in times of urgency, when constitutional rights seem too extravagant to endure. The World War II relocation-camp cases, Hirabayashi v. United States, 320 U.S. 81 (1943); Korematsu v. United States, 323 U.S. 214 (1944), and the Red scare and McCarthy-era internal subversion cases, Schenck v. United States, 249 U.S. 47 (1919); Dennis v. United States, 341 U.S. 494 (1951), are only the most extreme reminders that when we allow fundamental freedoms to be sacrificed in the name of real or perceived exigency, we invariably come to regret it.
In permitting the Government to force entire railroad crews to submit to invasive blood and urine tests, even when it lacks any evidence of drug or alcohol use or other wrongdoing, the majority today joins those shortsighted courts which have allowed basic constitutional rights to fall prey to momentary emergencies. The majority holds that the need of the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to deter and diagnose train accidents outweighs any "minimal" intrusions on personal dignity and privacy posed by mass toxicological testing of persons who have given no indication whatsoever of
The majority purports to limit its decision to postaccident testing of workers in "safety-sensitive" jobs, ante, at 620, much as it limits its holding in the companion case to the testing of transferees to jobs involving drug interdiction or the use of firearms. Treasury Employees v. Von Raab, post, at 664. But the damage done to the Fourth Amendment is not so easily cabined. The majority's acceptance of dragnet blood and urine testing ensures that the first, and worst, casualty of the war on drugs will be the precious liberties of our citizens. I therefore dissent.
The Court today takes its longest step yet toward reading the probable-cause requirement out of the Fourth Amendment. For the fourth time in as many years, a majority holds that a " `special nee[d], beyond the normal need for law enforcement,' " makes the " `requirement' " of probable cause " `impracticable.' " Ante, at 619 (citations omitted). With the recognition of "[t]he Government's interest in regulating the conduct of railroad employees to ensure safety" as such a need, ante, at 620, the Court has now permitted "special needs" to displace constitutional text in each of the four categories of searches enumerated in the Fourth Amendment: searches of "persons," ante, at 613-614; "houses," Griffin v. Wisconsin, 483 U.S. 868 (1987); "papers," O'Connor v. Ortega,
The process by which a constitutional "requirement" can be dispensed with as "impracticable" is an elusive one to me. The Fourth Amendment provides that "[t]he right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated; and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized." The majority's recitation of the Amendment, remarkably, leaves off after the word "violated," ante, at 613, but the remainder of the Amendment — the Warrant Clause — is not so easily excised. As this Court has long recognized, the Framers intended the provisions of that Clause — a warrant and probable cause — to "provide the yardstick against which official searches and seizures are to be measured." T. L. O., supra, at 359-360 (opinion of BRENNAN, J.). Without the content which those provisions give to the Fourth Amendment's overarching command that searches and seizures be "reasonable," the Amendment lies virtually devoid of meaning, subject to whatever content shifting judicial majorities, concerned about the problems of the day, choose to give to that supple term. See Dunaway v. New York, 442 U.S. 200, 213 (1979) ("[T]he protections intended by the Framers could all too easily disappear in the consideration and balancing of the multifarious circumstances presented by different cases"). Constitutional requirements like probable cause are not fair-weather friends, present when advantageous, conveniently absent when "special needs" make them seem not.
Until recently, an unbroken line of cases had recognized probable cause as an indispensable prerequisite for a full-scale search, regardless of whether such a search was conducted pursuant to a warrant or under one of the recognized exceptions to the warrant requirement. T. L. O., supra, at 358
The majority's decision today bears out that prophecy. After determining that the Fourth Amendment applies to the FRA's testing regime, the majority embarks on an extended inquiry into whether that regime is "reasonable," an inquiry in which it balances " `all of the circumstances surrounding the search or seizure and the nature of the search or seizure itself.' " Ante, at 619, quoting United States v. Montoya de
In widening the "special needs" exception to probable cause to authorize searches of the human body unsupported by any evidence of wrongdoing, the majority today completes the process begun in T. L. O. of eliminating altogether the probable-cause requirement for civil searches — those undertaken for reasons "beyond the normal need for law enforcement." Ante, at 619 (citations omitted). In its place, the majority substitutes a manipulable balancing inquiry under which, upon the mere assertion of a "special need," even the deepest dignitary and privacy interests become vulnerable
The fact is that the malleable "special needs" balancing approach can be justified only on the basis of the policy results it allows the majority to reach. The majority's concern with the railroad safety problems caused by drug and alcohol abuse is laudable; its cavalier disregard for the text of the Constitution is not. There is no drug exception to the Constitution, any more than there is a communism exception or an exception for other real or imagined sources of domestic unrest. Coolidge v. New Hampshire, 403 U.S. 443, 455 (1971). Because abandoning the explicit protections of the Fourth Amendment seriously imperils "the right to be let alone — the most comprehensive of rights and the right most valued by civilized men," Olmstead v. United States, 277 U.S. 438, 478 (1928) (Brandeis, J., dissenting), I reject the majority's "special needs" rationale as unprincipled and dangerous.
The proper way to evaluate the FRA's testing regime is to use the same analytic framework which we have traditionally used to appraise Fourth Amendment claims involving fullscale searches, at least until the recent "special needs" cases. Under that framework, we inquire, serially, whether a
The majority's threshold determination that "covered" railroad employees have been searched under the FRA's testing program is certainly correct. Ante, at 616-618. Who among us is not prepared to consider reasonable a person's expectation of privacy with respect to the extraction of his blood, the collection of his urine, or the chemical testing of these fluids? United States v. Jacobsen, 466 U.S. 109, 113 (1984).
It is the probable-cause requirement, however, that the FRA's testing regime most egregiously violates, a fact which explains the majority's ready acceptance and expansion of the countertextual "special needs" exception. By any measure, the FRA's highly intrusive collection and testing procedures qualify as full-scale personal searches. Under our precedents, a showing of probable cause is therefore clearly required. But even if these searches were viewed as entailing only minimal intrusions on the order, say, of a police stop-and-frisk, the FRA's program would still fail to pass constitutional muster, for we have, without exception, demanded that even minimally intrusive searches of the person be founded on individualized suspicion. See supra, at 638, and n. 1. The federal parties concede it does not satisfy this standard. Brief for Federal Parties 18. Only if one construes the FRA's collection and testing procedures as akin to the routinized and fleeting regulatory interactions which we have permitted in the absence of individualized suspicion, see n. 2, supra, might these procedures survive constitutional scrutiny. Presumably for this reason, the majority likens this case to United States v. Martinez-Fuerte, 428 U.S. 543 (1976), which upheld brief automobile stops at the border to ascertain the validity of motorists' residence in the United States. Ante, at 624. Case law and common sense reveal both the bankruptcy of this absurd analogy and the constitutional imperative of adhering to the textual standard of probable cause to evaluate the FRA's multifarious full-scale searches.
In recognition of the intrusiveness of this procedure, we specifically required in Schmerber that police have evidence of a drunken-driving suspect's impairment before forcing him to endure a blood test:
Schmerber strongly suggested that the "clear indication" needed to justify a compulsory blood test amounted to a showing of probable cause, which "plainly" existed in that case. Id., at 768. Although subsequent cases interpreting Schmerber have differed over whether a showing of individualized
Compelling a person to produce a urine sample on demand also intrudes deeply on privacy and bodily integrity. Urination is among the most private of activities. It is generally forbidden in public, eschewed as a matter of conversation, and performed in places designed to preserve this tradition of
The majority's characterization of the privacy interests implicated by urine collection as "minimal," ante, at 624, is nothing
The fact that the majority can invoke this powerful passage in the context of deciding that a search has occurred, and then ignore it in deciding that the privacy interests this search implicates are "minimal," underscores the shameless manipulability of its balancing approach.
Finally, the chemical analysis the FRA performs upon the blood and urine samples implicates strong privacy interests apart from those intruded upon by the collection of bodily fluids. Technological advances have made it possible to uncover, through analysis of chemical compounds in these fluids, not only drug or alcohol use, but also medical disorders such as epilepsy, diabetes, and clinical depression. Cf. Martinez-Fuerte, supra, at 558, quoting United States v. Brignoni-Ponce, 422 U.S. 873, 880 (1975) (checkpoint inquiry involves only " `a brief question or two' " about motorist's residence). As the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has observed: "[S]uch tests may provide Government officials with a periscope through which they can peer into an individual's behavior in her private life, even in her own home." Jones v. McKenzie, 266 U. S. App. D. C. 85, 89, 833 F.2d 335, 339 (1987); see also Capua v. Plainfield, 643 F.Supp. 1507, 1511 (NJ 1986) (urine testing is "form of surveillance" which "reports on a person's off-duty activities just as surely as someone had been present and
By any reading of our precedents, the intrusiveness of these three searches demands that they — like other full-scale searches — be justified by probable cause. It is no answer to suggest, as does the majority, that railroad workers have relinquished the protection afforded them by this Fourth Amendment requirement, either by "participat[ing] in an industry that is regulated pervasively to ensure safety" or by undergoing periodic fitness tests pursuant to state law or to collective-bargaining agreements. Ante, at 627.
Our decisions in the regulatory search area refute the suggestion that the heavy regulation of the railroad industry eclipses workers' rights under the Fourth Amendment to insist upon a showing of probable cause when their bodily fluids are being extracted. This line of cases has exclusively involved searches of employer property, with respect to which "[c]ertain industries have such a history of government oversight that no reasonable expectation of privacy could exist for a proprietor over the stock of such an enterprise." Marshall v. Barlow's, Inc., 436 U.S. 307, 313 (1978) (emphasis added; citation omitted), quoted in New York v. Burger, 482 U.S. 691, 700 (1987). Never have we intimated that regulatory searches reduce employees' right of privacy in their persons. See Camara v. Municipal Court of San Francisco, 387 U.S. 523, 537 (1967) ("[T]he inspections are [not] personal in nature"); cf. Donovan v. Dewey, 452 U.S. 594, 598-599 (1981); Marshall, supra, at 313. As the Court pointed out in O'Connor, individuals do not lose Fourth Amendment rights at the workplace gate, 480 U. S., at 716-718; see also Oliver v. United States, 466 U.S. 170, 178, n. 8 (1984), any more than they relinquish these rights at the schoolhouse door, T. L. O., 469 U. S., at 333, or the hotel room threshold, Hoffa v. United States, 385 U.S. 293, 301 (1966). These rights mean
The majority's suggestion that railroad workers' privacy is only minimally invaded by the collection and testing of their bodily fluids because they undergo periodic fitness tests, ante, at 624-625, is equally baseless. As an initial matter, even if participation in these fitness tests did render "minimal" an employee's "interest in bodily security," ante, at 628, such minimally intrusive searches of the person require, under our precedents, a justificatory showing of individualized suspicion. See supra, at 637. More fundamentally, railroad employees are not routinely required to submit to blood or urine tests to gain or to maintain employment, and railroad employers do not ordinarily have access to employees' blood or urine, and certainly not for the purpose of ascertaining drug or alcohol usage. That railroad employees sometimes undergo tests of eyesight, hearing, skill, intelligence, and agility, ante, at 627, n. 8, hardly prepares them for Government demands to submit to the extraction of blood, to excrete under supervision, or to have these bodily fluids tested for the physiological and psychological secrets they may contain. Surely employees who release basic information about their financial and personal history so that employers may ascertain their "ethical fitness" do not, by so doing, relinquish their expectations of privacy with respect to their personal letters and diaries, revealing though these papers may be of their character.
I recognize that invalidating the full-scale searches involved in the FRA's testing regime for failure to comport with the Fourth Amendment's command of probable cause
Even accepting the majority's view that the FRA's collection and testing program is appropriately analyzed under a multifactor balancing test, and not under the literal terms of the Fourth Amendment, I would still find the program invalid. The benefits of suspicionless blood and urine testing are far outstripped by the costs imposed on personal liberty by such sweeping searches. Only by erroneously deriding as "minimal" the privacy and dignity interests at stake, and by uncritically inflating the likely efficacy of the FRA's testing program, does the majority strike a different balance.
For the reasons stated above, I find nothing minimal about the intrusion on individual liberty that occurs whenever the Government forcibly draws and analyzes a person's blood and urine. Several aspects of the FRA's testing program exacerbate the intrusiveness of these procedures. Most strikingly, the agency's regulations not only do not forbid, but, in fact, appear to invite criminal prosecutors to obtain the blood and urine samples drawn by the FRA and use them as the basis of criminal investigations and trials. See 49 CFR
To be sure, the majority acknowledges, in passing, the possibility of criminal prosecutions, ante, at 621, n. 5, but it refuses to factor this possibility into its Fourth Amendment balancing process, stating that "the record does not disclose that [49 CFR § 219.211(d) (1987)] was intended to be, or actually has been, so used." Ibid. This demurrer is highly disingenuous. The federal parties concede that they find "no prohibition on the release of FRA testing results to prosecutors." Brief for Federal Parties 10, n. 15. The absence of prosecutions to date — which is likely due to the fact that the FRA's regulations have been held invalid for much of their brief history — hardly proves that prosecutors will not avail themselves of the FRA's invitation in the future. If the majority really views the impact of FRA testing on privacy interests as minimal even if these tests generate criminal prosecutions, it should say so. If the prospect of prosecutions would lead the majority to reassess the validity of the testing program with prosecutions as part of the balance, it should say so, too, or condition its approval of that program on the nonrelease of test results to prosecutors. In ducking this important issue, the majority gravely disserves both the values served by the Fourth Amendment and the rights of those persons whom the FRA searches. Furthermore, the majority's refusal to restrict the release of test results casts considerable doubt on the conceptual basis of its decision — that the "special need" of railway safety is one "beyond the
The majority also overlooks needlessly intrusive aspects of the testing process itself. Although the FRA requires the collection and testing of both blood and urine, the agency concedes that mandatory urine tests — unlike blood tests — do not measure current impairment and therefore cannot differentiate on-duty impairment from prior drug or alcohol use which has ceased to affect the user's behavior. See 49 CFR § 219.309(2) (1987) (urine test may reveal use of drugs or alcohol as much as 60 days prior to sampling). Given that the FRA's stated goal is to ascertain current impairment, and not to identify persons who have used substances in their spare time sufficiently in advance of their railroad duties to pose no risk of on-duty impairment, § 219.101(a), mandatory urine testing seems wholly excessive. At the very least, the FRA could limit its use of urinalysis to confirming findings of current impairment suggested by a person's blood tests. The additional invasion caused by automatically testing urine as well as blood hardly ensures that privacy interests "will be invaded no more than is necessary." T. L. O., 469 U. S., at 343.
The majority's trivialization of the intrusions on worker privacy posed by the FRA's testing program is matched at the other extreme by its blind acceptance of the Government's assertion that testing will "dete[r] employees engaged in safety-sensitive tasks from using controlled substances or alcohol," and "help railroads obtain invaluable information
Under the majority's deterrence rationale, people who skip school or work to spend a sunny day at the zoo will not taunt the lions because their truancy or absenteeism might be discovered in the event they are mauled. It is, of course, the fear of the accident, not the fear of a postaccident revelation, that deters. The majority's credulous acceptance of the FRA's deterrence rationale is made all the more suspect by the agency's failure to introduce, in an otherwise ample administrative record, any studies explaining or supporting its theory of accident deterrence.
The poverty of the majority's deterrence rationale leaves the Government's interest in diagnosing the causes of major accidents as the sole remaining justification for the FRA's testing program. I do not denigrate this interest, but it seems a slender thread from which to hang such an intrusive program, particularly given that the knowledge that one or more workers were impaired at the time of an accident falls far short of proving that substance abuse caused or exacerbated
In his first dissenting opinion as a Member of this Court, Oliver Wendell Holmes observed:
A majority of this Court, swept away by society's obsession with stopping the scourge of illegal drugs, today succumbs to the popular pressures described by Justice Holmes. In upholding the FRA's plan for blood and urine testing, the
Taking a blood or urine sample might also be characterized as a Fourth Amendment seizure, since it may be viewed as a meaningful interference with the employee's possessory interest in his bodily fluids. Cf. United States v. Jacobsen, 466 U.S. 109, 113 (1984). It is not necessary to our analysis in this case, however, to characterize the taking of blood or urine samples as a seizure of those bodily fluids, for the privacy expectations protected by this characterization are adequately taken into account by our conclusion that such intrusions are searches.
In addition, the regulations contain various safeguards against any possibility that discretion will be abused. A railroad that requires post-accident testing in bad faith, 49 CFR § 219.201(c) (1987), or that willfully imposes a program of authorized testing that does not comply with Subpart D, § 219.9(a)(3), or that otherwise fails to follow the regulations, § 219.9 (a)(5), is subject to civil penalties, see pt. 219, App. A, p. 105, in addition to whatever damages may be awarded through the arbitration process.