In May of this year, U.S. Bergen County Assembly Republicans Robert Auth and DeAnne DeFuccio had announced their plan to introduce a bill requiring all public and private school bus drivers to be drug tested twice a year. The proposal was made a week after legal recreational cannabis went on sale in the state of New Jersey.
Under the current U.S. federal law, school bus drivers are subject to annual random drug tests. Moreover, school districts or contracted bus companies are required to test 10% of their drivers for alcohol and 50% for drugs including controlled opiates and cannabis each year.
If implemented, the new legislation would require all school bus drivers to be tested at least twice annually, including drivers for private schools.
“We have a collective responsibility to protect children, which will be more challenging as our New Jersey laws and attitudes toward drugs like [cannabis] evolve,” said DeFuccio in a statement. “School bus drivers are carrying our most precious cargo and our rules regarding drug and alcohol testing should reflect that.”
Auth and DeFuccio referred to a previous crash that had occurred in 2019 in Newark, where a bus driver allegedly consumed heroin before driving 11 special-needs children to school. Subsequently, the driver had overdosed, crashed the bus, and was revived with Narcan. Later in 2020, a Paterson bus company was cited for failing to conduct drug testing and background checks and for using unqualified drivers.
“Parents deserve the peace of mind that comes with knowing their children are in the safest hands when they get on the bus in the morning,” added Auth. “Our bill addresses gaps in drug and alcohol testing protocols and ensures every single school bus driver is being held to the same standard.”
If the bill is passed, any driver who tests positive for drugs or alcohol or refuses to be tested immediately will become ineligible to drive.