House Okays Legislation To Test Driver’s License Applicants, Others For Drugs

House members overwhelmingly approved legislation last week encouraging states to drug test all teenage driver’s license applicants. The provision, included in H.R. 4550, further recommends that states adopt policies denying licenses to applicants who test positive for drug metabolites.

“It is unfair and likely unconstitutional to arbitrarily subject one segment of the population to this degrading and unreliable procedure only on the basis of their age,” said attorney Tanya Kangas, director of litigation for The NORML Foundation.

In the past, President Bill Clinton has endorsed the idea of drug testing expectant teen drivers.

A second provision in the legislation provides grants to non-profit organizations promoting drug-free workplaces, and prompts states to offer financial incentive programs encouraging small businesses to adopt drug testing procedures.

“The passage of this legislation needlessly interferes with the privacy of approximately 50 percent of the nation’s workforce,” Kangas said. “Drug testing, particularly urinalysis, is an intrusive search and lacks the ability to determine job impairment. In addition, these procedures unfairly target marijuana smokers who may test positive for weeks after the drug’s euphoric effects have worn off.”

Urinalysis is the most common type of drug test used by employers and law enforcement. The test detects the presence of non-psychoactive metabolites that indicate past use of certain licit and illicit substances. A positive test result, even when confirmed, does not indicate drug abuse or addiction, recency, frequency, amount of drug use, or impairment.

Language in H.R. 4550 also encourages states to adopt laws allowing law enforcement to check motorists for the presence of drug metabolites, and urges voters to reject state efforts to modify existing criminal drug laws.

The House passed the measure by a vote of 396 to 9.

For more information, please contact either Keith Stroup, Esq. of NORML @ (202) 483-5500 or Tanya Kangas, Esq. of The NORML Foundation @ (202) 483-8751.