Legislation Stems from Recent Report of NJT Engineer with Suspended License
Legislation Assembly Democrats Joann Downey, Eric Houghtaling, Nicholas Chiaravalloti, Craig Coughlin and Majority Leader Louis D. Greenwald sponsored to prohibit anyone whose driver’s license is suspended for DWI from operating a New Jersey Transit train was passed Monday by the General Assembly.
The bill (A-20) would prohibit any individual whose driver’s license is suspended or revoked due to driving while intoxicated or refusing to take a breathalyzer test from operating an NJ Transit locomotive or train. The measure now heads to the governor’s desk.
“No one who is prohibited from operating an automobile should be in a position to transport passengers who take NJ Transit trains,” said Downey (D-Monmouth). “This is the third largest transit system in the United States of America. For the sake of public safety, New Jersey must take action to ensure that no one whose license is suspended due to drunk driving is granted this level of responsibility.”
The measure is a response to a recent report that an NJ Transit engineer with a suspended license due to a record of driving while intoxicated nonetheless is still permitted to operate trains. Federal law governing railroad operations does not prohibit the engineer from retaining the position.
“It’s entirely illogical for New Jersey to allow people who are prohibited from driving to be in charge of public transportation,” said Houghtaling (D-Monmouth). “Strengthening the standards for engineers is consistent with our state’s mission to ensure that safety is the first priority on NJ Transit.”
“An individual who lost his or her driving privileges has shown disregard for public safety and should be disqualified from operating trains for our state’s mass transit system,” said Chiaravalloti (D-Hudson). “This legislation is aimed at making sure NJ Transit meets passengers’ reasonable expectation of a safe ride.”
“When passengers board an NJ Transit train, their lives are in the hands of the engineer,” said Coughlin (D-Middlesex). “They deserve the peace of mind that comes with knowing that the person operating the train has no record of driving while intoxicated.”
“New Jersey can’t have one set of standards for safety on our roadways and another for safety on our railroads,” said Majority Leader Greenwald (D-Camden/Burlington). “Those who have proven a willingness to disobey the law and endanger themselves and other motorists cannot – and should not – be trusted to transport hundreds of thousands of people a day.”
The bill gained unanimous approval from both houses of the legislature.