Potential measure would require teen drivers to pass drug test - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

Potential measure would require teen drivers to pass drug test

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The Ramseys came to the DMV in Charleston so Hunter could take his driver's test.

A bill introduced on Tuesday in the West Virginia House of Delegates could require the 16-year-old to take a drug test before he ever gets behind the wheel.

"I think all these young kids out here on drugs don't need a driver's license," said Carroll Ramsey, Hunter's father. "They ought to test 'em all."

Del. Joe Ellington (R-Mercer) introduced the potential measure. He said it would forbid the DMV from granting permits and full licenses to minors unless they've passed a series of drug tests.

"We're trying to keep them from bowing down to peer pressure to use drugs," Del. Ellington said. "If they're really motivated to get their driver's license, they won't start it to begin with."

In West Virginia, minors need to pass three levels before obtaining their graduated driver's license. That means if this bill passes, minors would take three drug tests--one at every level.

But Del. Justin Marcum (D-Mingo) said he's against the proposal.

"We have thousands of teens every day getting their driver's licenses," Del. Marcum said. "Where's the money going to come from? We have roads that need repair, we have teachers that deserve a raise."

A few weeks ago Marcum considered drafting a similar bill. But he said after conducting research on the topic, he changed his mind.

"We must curb the problem, not band-aid it," said Del. Marcum, on widespread substance abuse. "Drug testing for driver's licenses won't work."

Ellington said DMV workers would administer the urine screen that would cost a few dollars.

"Obviously the state's not going to want to front the cost. It will be passed onto the consumer," Del. Ellington said. "But that may be built into the original cost of obtaining the driver's license."

Del. Ellington said he's still determining how much the measure would cost to implement.

Currently, it costs $5 to purchase a driver's license.

But some people said it's not about money.

"I think it's an invasion of privacy," said James Crookston, who went to the DMV in Kanawha City on Tuesday. "Our youth is going to do what it wants to do."

"What's them to tell you you can't get your driver's license before you get a drug test?" said Mary Jowood, 19. "I don't think it's right."

Hunter said when it's time to get his next license, the state can test away.

"Personally I'd be 100 percent for it," he said. "I don't do drugs and never plan on it... I know some people who do drugs that I go to school with who has their learner's, and I feel they should be drug tested."

If a teen fails the DMV drug test, she would not be able to continue the licensing process until she is able to pass the screen after a period of time yet to be determined, according to Del. Ellington.

The measure needs to go through several steps before it becomes a law. It would be debated in two committees before a full vote in the House.