A bill has been introduced to the West Virginia legislature which if passed would require teenagers to submit to drug tests in order to be issued a driving license. The Beckley (WV) Register-Herald reported on March 4, 2013 that:
Delegate Dr. Joe Ellington, R-Mercer, is the lead sponsor of House Bill 2528, which would require any person under the age of 18 to pass a drug test in order to earn their driver’s license. Delegates Marty Gearheart and Delegate John Shott, both R-Mercer, are among the bill’s cosponsors.
“The big purpose of this is to deter teens from starting drugs,” Ellington said. “If you look at the numbers in behavioral medicine, about 5 percent of the 12 to 17 age group admitted to using illegal drugs. In the 18 to 25 group, this jumps up to 25 percent.
“We have a big problem with prescription pills and drugs in the southern part of the state and driver’s licenses are a big motivator for teens. We feel the peer pressure to get your driver’s license is bigger than pressure to do drugs. This may also get them to an age where they are older and more mature and can decide to stay away from drugs.”
Gearheart said the bill is currently before the House Committee on Roads and Transportation, where he serves as minority vice chair. Gearheart said the bill is another tool to combat drug abuse, particularly among youth.