DWI charges are an increasingly serious issue in New York and the country as a whole–and for nobody more so than employers and business owners within the transportation industry. The consequences of an employee found to be driving while intoxicated, especially during working hours or while operating a company vehicle, range from injury and fatalities to license suspensions and potentially catastrophic legal action against the company.
For a multitude of reasons, no business ever wants one of their workers to face DWI charges. However, since alcohol- and drug-related car accidents are an unfortunately common occurrence in New York, as elsewhere, it is important for businesses to be able to affirm they have done everything in their power to prevent this from happening, for legal as well as moral reasons. Here are some steps transportation businesses can take to minimize instances of employee DWI’s.
Many businesses make use of thorough background checks when hiring new employees, and for good reason. Previous DWI convictions serve as powerful red flags when considering someone for a job within the transportation industry.
It is important to note that background checks are subject to regulations at the state and federal level, including the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act. However, FCRA applies to investigations by outside businesses, so it may be a good idea to conduct in-house checks for new hires. Be aware, also, that if a business chooses not to hire somebody on the basis of a previous conviction, the state of New York requires them to provide reasoning for why this conviction is relevant to job performance. However, the logical line between an applicant being convicted of driving while intoxicated and being unfit for a position within the transportation industry is clear–just be sure that you have thorough documentation of the applicant’s record, your company’s hiring policies, and the contact information of an experienced small business attorney NYC, in case of legal trouble.
It can also be beneficial to administer drug tests regularly or at the time of hiring so that you can have the most necessary and up-to-date information on your employee’s’ compliance with drug and alcohol policies at all times.
Communicate with Employees
The Occupational Safety & Health Administration recommends that businesses regularly communicate with employees about policies involving safety, drug and alcohol use, and driving during working hours in order to reduce car accidents among employees. This can include keeping copies of your company’s policies and procedures clearly posted around the workplace or well distributed among employees so that everyone understands them at all times. It is beneficial to keep them somewhere visible so that the seriousness of these policies is present in employees’ minds throughout the workday.
It is also recommended that business owners require employees to sign documents, such as Driver Agreements, affirming that they understand and will comply with the company’s drug and alcohol policies, as well as safety procedures. This way, both parties can affirm that employees thoroughly understand what is required of them in order to avoid DWI incidents.
Create an Environment that Promotes Safety
In addition to thorough documentation and written communication, there are actions that transportation businesses can take to make employees understand the considerable importance of safety in the workplace and during work hours.
It may be helpful to ensure that employees have access to counseling or other mental health services, whether within the company or outside of it. A 2007 finding indicated that people evaluated for alcoholism as a result of DWI and DUI charges had an increased likelihood of psychiatric disorders, begging the question of whether alcoholism and other drug dependencies may be partially avoided by preemptive mental health treatments. To some employers, this may seem like a premature step, however, it lets employees know that their practices, health, and safety are taken seriously by the company.
Another action recommended by the OSHA is to reach out to the greater community outside the company regarding the importance of safe driving and the gravity of DWI charges. For example, some businesses may choose to hold public events to raise awareness of these issues. This can not only benefit public relations but create a community understanding that your business is doing all it can to prevent DWI incidents.