A 2016 NJ Transit DUI law has become the basis for legal claims being brought against New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Attorney General Christopher Porrino. The lawsuit was filed by unions working on behalf NJ Transit train engineers who oppose the DUI law and feel it should not apply to NJ Transit employees.
What Is the NJ Transit DUI Law?
The rule at the center of the controversy is a state law that does not allow people whose driver’s license has been suspended because of a driving while intoxicated (DWI) conviction to operate a NJ Transit train. The NJ Transit DUI law took effect last August following a report that surfaced a few months earlier that an engineer was operating trains despite having his driver’s license suspended for 10 years after committing several drunk driving offenses.
Why Is the Train Engineers’ Union Pushing Back Against the DUI Law?
The reason that the locomotive engineer unions are suing to have the NJ Transit DUI law overturned is because they feel that the law is overkill due to similar federal railroad laws covering DUI offenses. However, per a NorthJersey.com article, federal railroad laws regarding drinking and driving and driver’s license suspension include options that can enable an engineer to keep operating trains. Some of the options include counseling and other exceptions for engineers battling substance abuse. The NorthJersey.com report also mentions that federal railroad laws allow states to enact stricter laws as long as the laws do not conflict with federal law, are necessary for local safety and do not place unreasonable burden on interstate commerce.
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