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DOT Training: What Alcohol On The Breath Means
DOT Training For Supervisor Discussion #2
Do not think that just because an employee has alcohol on the breath at 8:00 a.m, that they have been drinking in their car just prior to starting work.
Here is something you may not learn in DOT Training:
Many employees drink, get drunk, stay up late, and go to work the next morning. Those in later stages of alcoholism may remain intoxicated well into the morning hours because their liver does not metabolize as efficiently. They may have such high tolerance to alcohol that they can drink 12 beers or more late into the evening. You can't metabolize that much alcohol quickly. Hence, the employee arrives to work intoxicated with the liver still doing its homework. And, of course, the employee says he hasn't had a drink since last night.
The smell of non-alcoholic beer on the breath is the same as alcoholic beer. If the employee says its non-alcoholic beer..test anyway.
Law enforcement officers have found the strength of someone’s alcoholic breath is completely unrelated to how much alcohol they have in their system. Near beer is .5% alcohol or 1 proof.
Alcohol may be on the breath of an employee who appears fully capable and without any effects. This demonstrates drug tolerance. The employee may drink at lunch or at other times during the day, but not show any effects due to biological, genetically based adaptation to alcohol by the nervous system, which is inherited.
Sedative class drugs also “enhance” the smell of alcohol on the breath. If taken with an alcohol based medicine, the two would combine to create the smell, but not necessarily any of the other effects (slurred speech or reduced motor functions).
A supervisor’s role is to evaluate work performance and conduct. If you do smell alcohol on the breath, then evaluate the employee’s performance. Use a checklist to spot signs and symptoms that are in front of you but are difficult to readily consider. This will beef up your documentation. This way you will be able to produce more documentation.