October 17, 2018 New Legislation Regarding School Bus Drivers
KEEPING YOU INFORMED…
We are writing to advise you that, effective December 22, 2018, New York school bus drivers will soon be subject to pre-employment and random drug and alcohol tests.
The Vehicle and Traffic Law currently prohibits bus drivers from consuming or possessing drugs, controlled substances and intoxicating liquors prior to going on duty or while operating, or having physical control of a bus. It also requires that school bus drivers be subject to various tests to keep students safe. Examples of these tests include rules of the road exams, driving tests and health exams. Federal law, in contrast, requires detailed drug, alcohol and substance testing of all commercial drivers and places obligations on the commercial drivers’ employers to ensure compliance with the law.
Effective December 22, 2018, the Vehicle and Traffic Law will strengthen current oversight of all school bus drivers and require pre-employment and random drug and alcohol tests. The new law will also increase the prohibited time for consumption of alcohol, drugs or controlled substances prior to operating a school bus from six to eight hours. In addition, the Education Law has been amended to permit, as an allowable transportation expense, the costs of administering the required pre-employment and random drug and alcohol testing.
The mandated pre-employment and random testing must meet the requirements of federal regulations. This means, for us, that every school bus driver must be included in a random testing pool from which bus drivers are randomly selected for testing. Every driver must submit to testing when selected.
The new law does not distinguish between school bus drivers employed by school districts or outside contractors; all are included under the law’s definition of “motor carrier” that must administer the tests to school bus drivers. Regardless of whether you employ bus drivers or use an outside company to provide school transportation services, all bus drivers will be subject to these testing requirements. Moreover, any commercial drivers’ endorsements that school bus drivers may have do not exempt them from these tests.
According to the relevant federal regulations, the driver’s employer is ultimately responsible for ensuring that all required testing is completed in accordance with the law’s requirements. However, an employer may use an outside agent to perform the tasks needed to comply with the law.
As a result of this legislation, you may need to modify provisions in your transportation contracts and/or, if applicable, collective bargaining agreements, contracts, policies and/or practices governing bus drivers or pre-employment and random drug and alcohol testing. In addition, while school districts must abide by the new requirements, certain aspects of the procedure for doing so may have to be negotiated with your unions. We encourage you to contact us and send us your existing transportation contracts, collective bargaining agreements, contracts, policies and practices so that we may assist you with implementing the new legislation before it becomes effective.
If you would like to discuss this law in more detail, please contact Alyson Mathews or one of our other attorneys at 631-694-2300.
THIS MEMORANDUM IS MEANT TO ASSIST IN GENERAL UNDERSTANDING OF THE CURRENT LAW. IT IS NOT TO BE REGARDED AS LEGAL ADVICE. THOSE WITH PARTICULAR QUESTIONS SHOULD SEEK THE ADVICE OF COUNSEL.
© Lamb & Barnosky, LLP 2018