TRENTON – Acting in response to reports of a NJ Transit engineer whose driver’s license has been suspended for repeated drunken driving violations but continues to operate trains carrying thousands of passengers every day, Senate President Steve Sweeney today said he will have the Senate act immediately on legislation prohibiting train engineers whose driver’s licenses are suspended or revoked for DUI convictions from operating any passenger trains.
“Passengers have to trust in the engineers for their safety when they board the trains to travel in New Jersey,” said Senator Sweeney. “A suspended driver’s license for DUI should be an immediate exclusion for operating passenger trains. If they can’t be trusted to get behind the wheel of a car, they shouldn’t be at the controls of locomotives carrying thousands of people every day. A DUI conviction is serious and operating a train is a serious responsibility.”
Recent reports revealed that a New Jersey Transit engineer continues to operate a passenger train despite having his motor vehicle license suspended three times, twice for driving while intoxicated and once for failing to comply with the mandatory alcohol program. His license has been suspended for 10 years.
Senator Sweeney’s legislation, which will be introduced tomorrow in the Senate and brought immediately to a vote, would cover all NJ Transit workers who operate trains. There are currently no state or federal prohibitions in place.
Senator Sweeney said he will work with Senator Robert Menendez, Senator Cory Booker and the New Jersey Congressional Delegation to coordinate efforts to close what he termed “a public safety loophole” in both state and federal law.
“The fact that this engineer can step out from behind the controls of a passenger train at the end of the work day and has to be driven home because he’s not allowed to operate a motor vehicle is plain absurd,” said Senator Sweeney. “We want safety on the rails as well as safety on the roads.”