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Louisiana House to debate new DWI bill for school bus drivers

A drunk driving charge in Louisiana is serious. Conviction can result in severe consequences and may affect many aspects of a person's life. For people whose jobs require them to be seated behind the wheel, a DUI or DWI can be devastating. If certain lawmakers get their way, this type of conviction can lead to even more severe penalties for professional drivers.

Last year, a legislator from Lafayette obtained approval for a bill that forbids the renewal of an "S" designation, which denotes a school bus driver, on a commercial driver's license if the applicant was convicted for driving while intoxicated. This applies whether the person's DWI charge was incurred while on duty or on the person's own time. A provision in the bill allows someone to be re-licensed after a period of five years, provided he or she has successfully completed medical treatment and counseling and has kept a clean record.

However, this same lawmaker is convinced that law is not enough. She recently spoke to the House Transportation, Highways and Public Works Committee, seeking support for further measures. Specially, the legislator noted that drivers who had been convicted for DWI and were applying for school bus driver designation for the first time, rather than filing for renewal, were not impacted by the current law.

Therefore, she and others are supporting HB507, a bill which states that any person applying for a school bus driver position must not have a DWI conviction within the past five years. The bill specifies that the five-year timeframe during which medical treatment and counseling is required starts after conviction.

This bill will soon proceed to the House for discussion. It will likely get more attention in the weeks and months to come.

Source: theadvertiser.com, "School bus drivers with DWIs targeted," Mike Hasten, 4 May 2011

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