Drugs and Alcohol

Drug- and alcohol-related incidents on public transportation vehicles have decreased enormously since the initiation of Federally-mandated drug- and alcohol-testing in the mid-Eighties — requirements that require six types of tests:

  • Pre-employment
  • Random
  • Reasonable suspicion
  • Post-incident
  • Return-to-duty
  • Follow-up

Despite these requirements, all but pre-employment testing are often not applied. A particularly common omission is post-incident testing where the vehicle did not collide with a fellow vehicle, pedestrian or other object. Many defendants deliberately limit testing to collisions as a “cover-up,” since a finding of alcohol or controlled substances in a driver’s blood or urine is a liability death knell.

In the pre-digital days, close monitoring by dispatchers was more common: Handing out keys daily, they could get closely face-to-face with each driver and conduct a “look-and-smell” test — seeing if the driver’s eyes appeared focused and alert, and smelling his or her breath for alcohol or marijuana. But poor monitoring, and large gaps in the schedules of some modes (like complementary paratransit, non-emergency medical transportation or taxi services) provide opportunities for drivers to get drunk or high en route.