Facing up to ‘morning after’ drink-driving risks

Tuesday, December 3, 2013 - 16:29
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EXPERT: Nama Zarroug, of Kirwans

In our latest Expert Blog, Nama Zarroug, Head of Criminal Department at Kirwans, warns of the risks of driving the morning after a heavy drinking session…

Employers are nowadays mindful of staff being tempted to drive home from the office Christmas night out after a few drinks.

Some responsibly lay on transport or at least encourage staff to either share taxis or pre-arrange lifts from non-drinkers.

But are employers or fleet managers taking a step back in terms of responsibility of the ‘morning after’ risks?

Road safety campaigns have turned the spotlight on the risks of drink driving the ‘morning after’ – especially during the countdown to Christmas when our social diaries are crammed with boozy celebrations.

We are urged to calculate our ‘morning after’ alcohol levels – a very unscientific business as people recuperate at different rates.

A driving ban can be catastrophic in terms of a person’s career and reputation.

In the worse cases, tragically, lives can also be ruined or lost.

After nearly four decades of decline, the number of drink driving fatalities on the UK’s roads rose 23% to to 290 in 2012, according to the latest government figures.

Businesses may not be legally responsible for the ‘morning after’ actions of employees in many scenarios, such as the morning school run, but an employee taking to the wheel of a company vehicle or driving as part of their job while over the limit can cost a business dear.

Depending on the circumstances, a business could be held accountable.

Employers have a legal responsibility to ensure all staff are safe at work.

Proper advice to any staff member due to work the next day and possibly monitoring is essential.

Even changing a person’s work schedule to avoid driving tasks is advisable – if the employer believes the person may be over the limit from a work-related night out.

Good businesses need good employees – yet every Christmas (or more often New Year when the case goes to court), valued staff members are stripped of their driving licences by the courts and possibly sacked due to festive drink driving.

Some would argue that morally an employer is responsible for any direct consequences of an alcohol-related offence by an employee at a ‘works party’ – especially if free drinks are offered.

Hence some businesses take no official part in Christmas events.

If nothing else, it is good business sense to protect staff by steering them away from the temptation of driving while under the influence with good advice and practical support.