TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Two national railroad unions sued New Jersey on Monday over a law that forbids engineers from operating trains if they have had their motor vehicle driver's license revoked or suspended for drunken driving.
The federal lawsuit, filed in Trenton, said federal railroad laws already cover such circumstances and the state law is unnecessary.
The complaint was brought by the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen and the Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers-Transportation Division. It asks the court to declare the federal law pre-empts the state law.
The New Jersey Legislature passed the law last summer in the wake of revelations that a New Jersey Transit engineer had been operating commuter trains despite losing his license to drive a car for 10 years for repeated drunken driving.
The law forbids an engineer from operating a locomotive or train during the time his or her driver's license is suspended or revoked.
According to the lawsuit, federal law already requires railroads to consider an engineer's driving record when making certification decisions and bars those with active substance abuse disorders from being certified.
The lawsuit said federal laws also outline what steps to take for re-certification and continued employment once an engineer has had his or her driver's license suspended or revoked.
In declining comment Monday, New Jersey Transit spokeswoman Nancy Snyder cited the agency's policy on pending litigation.
Snyder said Thomas Broschart, the engineer whose driving record sparked the state law, is still employed by NJ Transit but is not currently driving trains.