During the 2011 Session, the Legislature adopted House Bill 353, which requires individuals who apply for TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) benefits to submit to a drug test. Ch. 2011-81, Laws of Fla., codified at § 414.0652(1), Fla. Stat. (2010)). Luis W. Lebron, a single father with prior military service who has sole custody of his four-year-old son, challenged the law. Mr. Lebron, who otherwise qualified for TANF benefits, refused to submit to a drug test, arguing that it violates his Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches. The court agreed, granting a preliminary injunction that bars the state from requiring applicants for TANF benefits to submit to suspicionless drug searches.
In so holding, the court found that the Mr. Lebron was likely to prevail on his challenge to the drug testing requirement. Under the Fourth Amendment, the general rule is that a search must be based on the “individualized suspicion of wrongdoing” in order to be reasonable. The state argued that there are “exceptional circumstances” that make the Fourth Amendment’s traditional probable cause requirement impractical for TANF applicants, but the court rejected this argument, finding that that the state’s own prior study failed to substantiate a special need for mandatory drug testing.