The world is a largely unpredictable place. We never know when we will meet a new friend, make a new discovery, or get into an accident. There were almost 30,000 fatal motor vehicle crashes in 2011 and if we want to be part of getting that number as low as possible, we will all need to take responsibility for the choices we make around transportation. Sometimes, though, we may have less control over a situation than we would like. For instance, who is responsible when we loan our vehicle to a friend and that friend gets arrested for a DUI? These types of situations occur every day, so it is best to be as informed and prepared as possible.
Some states have explicit laws to handle situations such as the one mentioned above. If you loan your vehicle to a friend and that friend is pulled over for a DUI, in some states you will lose your vehicle. It will be confiscated as a result of what the state deems poor decision-making on your part. Sometimes, a situation like this would only result in your vehicle being impounded after the first occurrence and confiscation would occur should you find yourself in this situation a second time. For this reason, it is important to know your state’s DUI laws.
In some states, it is a crime to loan your vehicle to someone you suspect to have been drinking alcohol, so if the person is arrested for a DUI, you will face criminal charges, as well. In states with these sorts of laws, the answer to “Who is responsible?” is “You are.” The best thing to do is to never loan your vehicle to people you know are not very responsible and/or who drink alcohol regularly. But, what if you are an employer and an employee is arrested for a DUI while driving one of the company’s fleet of vehicles? Who is responsible, then?
Most states have laws detailing how employers should handle employees that have been convicted of DUIs and are required to drive as a condition of employment. In some states, the offender is not allowed to drive employer-owned vehicles and other states allow it with certain contingencies. If an employee is in the company-owned vehicle at the time of the offense, though, the company will hold some liability. For this reason, many companies that maintain a fleet of vehicles routinely check the driving records of the applicable employees and have them sign agreements around the issue of reporting and acceptable driving behaviors. Responsibility is a tricky thing in situations like this, so it’s best to simply assume as much responsibility as possible from the beginning.