TRENTON, N.J. – A week after New Jersey’s legal recreational marijuana sales officially started, Assemblyman Robert Auth and Assemblywoman DeAnne DeFuccio say they plan to introduce a bill requiring school bus drivers to undergo additional random drug and alcohol testing.
“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,” Auth (R-Bergen) said. “Our bill addresses gaps in drug and alcohol testing protocols and ensures every single school bus driver is being held to the same standard.”
Under federal regulations, school bus drivers are subject to annual random drug and alcohol testing based on the number of driver positions. Every year, 10% percent of drivers must be randomly tested for alcohol and 50% of them for controlled substances like opiates and marijuana. The new bill would expand that testing to 100% of school bus drivers twice a year.
“We have a collective responsibility to protect children, which will be more challenging as our New Jersey laws and attitudes toward drugs like marijuana evolve,” DeFuccio (R-Bergen) said. “School bus drivers are carrying our most precious cargo and our rules regarding drug and alcohol testing should reflect that.”
In 2019, an employee of F&A Transportation used heroin before transporting 12 special-needs children in Newark. With the students aboard, the 57-year-old driver overdosed, crashed and needed to be revived with Narcan. In 2020, a Paterson-based school bus company was charged with using unqualified drivers and aides and failing to conduct mandatory drug testing and criminal background checks.
To increase accountability, the bill also requires the employing board of education or contractor to annually file evidence of the testing with the executive county superintendent.
The bill would apply to all drivers of buses or other vehicles used by a board of education or by a private or parochial school for the transportation of pupils to and from school. Anyone who tests positive for drugs or alcohol, or who refuses to submit to testing, would be immediately ineligible to drive.
“More frequent and surprise drug tests along with stricter reporting requirements puts sober, competent and responsible adults in the driver’s seat. We will not let the safety of schoolchildren in New Jersey be compromised,” Auth and DeFuccio said.