Alcohol and drug abuse are at epidemic proportions in this country. These problems are present in the workplace. Even if substance abuse occurs off duty, it impacts the workplace significantly.
What is the Impact of Driving Impaired at Work?
Many employees drive motor vehicles as part of their jobs. They could drive intermittently between work sites or to run errands. Other employees drive as a primary responsibility. When these employees come to work under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol, it can spell disaster for them as well as their employer.
They might drive their own car, or a company owned vehicle. Either way, the risk to the employer is high. Employers can be held liable for the damages when an employee causes an accident. There are often injuries, including fatalities, and criminal charges in accidents involving drugs or alcohol.
Insurance costs are impacted and may not be adequate to cover all expenses. The publicity from an incident involving substance abuse can be devastating to any company.
Who Presents the Risk?
It can be shocking to learn that an employee was arrested for driving under the influence while working. The time of day that an employee works does not make them immune to driving impaired. Drivers are arrested for driving under the influence on their way to work in the morning. Sometimes it is because the driver did consume alcohol either while driving or a short time before driving. Some drivers are still legally intoxicated from the night before.
How does this Happen?
The blood alcohol level (BAL) that is considered too intoxicated to operate a motor vehicle is .08 in all states. A driver can be arrested for driving impaired without having a BAL that high based on a field sobriety test or obvious behavior necessitating removal from the road. Drugs, other than alcohol, could also be present causing the impairment. It does not take much to cause impairment. It can take an extended period of time after ingestion for the substances to no longer cause impairment.
Employer Responsibility to Prevent Impaired Operation
Employers can take action to insulate themselves and their employees from some liability associated with impaired employee driving.
Educating employees about driving safety including the impact and effect of alcohol and drug use on driving can help.
Employers need to have safeguards in place to prevent employees from getting behind the wheel under the influence. Zero tolerance policies and face to face check-ins are essential.
We can help
It is imperative to have legal representation in these situations. Contact our experienced firm. We can help you establish prevention programs or respond to an incident. We are here to help.