In at least partial response to an incident in which a pedestrian was struck and killed by a school bus driver who had cocaine in his system, a law has been passed which now requires background checks and random drug testing of school bus drivers. While bus drivers employed by school districts are already subject to background checks, the law imposes a similar requirement on bus drivers employed by outside bus services.
In addition to requiring employers to check the child abuse registry, the new law requires the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles to withhold or suspend the license of any employee who has been convicted of a serious criminal offense during the past five years. The law requires periodic checks for criminal records. And while random drug testing is already required, the existing law does not automatically require a bus company to bar an employee who tests positive from driving for any extended period of time. Under the new law, an employee who tests positive is barred from driving for two years. A second positive test bars the individual from ever driving a school bus again.
While the vast majority of drivers employed by private bus companies are reliable employees, the new legislation should help to weed out the handful of drivers (estimated by one Connecticut newspapers as in the hundreds) who have committed serious crimes and/or abuse drugs.