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August 30, 2011  |   Comments (3)   |   Post a comment

New law cracks down on bus driver drinking, drug use


SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Last week, Gov. Pat Quinn approved a bill that cracks down on bus drivers who are driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol in an effort to better protects students.

House Bill 147, sponsored by Rep. Lisa Dugan (D-Bradley) and Sen. Toi Hutchinson (D-Chicago Heights), was passed unanimously by the legislature. The new law imposes a three-year suspension of a bus driver's license if the driver tests positive for alcohol or drugs or refuses a blood-alcohol test.

There had not been a zero-tolerance policy like this in state previously, Illinois Secretary of State Jessie White told WJBD Radio.

Nearly a year ago, a school bus driver was driving students home under the influence of alcohol. This prompted the new law, which takes effect Jan. 1, 2012.

The law allows school bus companies to require drivers to submit to alcohol and drug testing if there is a reasonable suspicion that they are under the influence of a substance, WJBD Radio reports. The secretary of state's office will suspend the school bus permit of a driver for three years if he or she fails or refuses to submit to the test.

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It makes people question what these States have in place in State Government offices that are supposed to be fail-safe agencies over State Commercial Motor Vehicle Federal licensed Commercial Drivers in which ALL States have Motor Carrier Enforcement agencies through the respective State Police agencies. They are called "Auditors." The Federal observers approve federal funding to fund the States with these agencies that are in place to monoitor CDL drivers. Someone somewhere dropped the ball. It is always sad where legislators have to make a Law covering some responsibility that someone should already be in control of to begin with. There are Federal Commercial Motor Vehicle Auditors who audit large Contractors and Motor Vehicle regulated companies. The FMCSR #383.72 is the Implied Consent to Alcohol Testing, #392.5 clearly expresses that no driver/operator of a commercial vehicle should have any detectable presence of alcohol while operating a commercial motor vehicle. Source: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, Parts: 383, 390, 391, 392, US Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration. It ultimately boils down to the actual driver's choice to show up for work under the influence. It is the employer's liability if they have not followed the Federal and State regulations. Having full knowledge of the regulations is demonstrated by the individual driver by obtaining their personal CDL license by demonstrating basic knowledge to obtain their license in the first place.

Dan Luttrell, Bedford, IN    |    Aug 31, 2011 06:57 AM

Mac Dashney - While those test have been required, if some one tested positive for drugs or refused a random, they did loose their school bus permit for three years, if some one tested positive for alcohol, they were terminated, but retained their school bus permit. There have been numerous times drivers have been let go for a positive breath alcohol. They go to the next bus company/school district and get a job. The paperwork comes through asking about drug and alcohol, then the new company/district has the option to hire or not. However, this new law, will mean that people with a positive breath alcohol will now loose their school bus permit for three years, as they would for a positive drug test. So no, please do not interpret this action as an admission by Illinois that its school bus fleets have been in violation of Federal Regulations for the past 16 years.

SnowAngel3208    |    Aug 31, 2011 04:42 AM

What is Illinois thinking about? The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Adminstration requires "The following tests apply to all persons who are required to have a CDL for the type of vehicle being operated." Pre-employment Random Reasonable Suspicion Post Accident Return to Duty These tests have been required since the application of the law to public school employees beginning in 1995 and 1996. Are we to interpret this action as an admission by Illinois that its school bus fleets have been in violation of federal regulations for the past 16 years??

Mac Dashney    |    Aug 30, 2011 04:33 PM

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