2015-01-09 / Community

Board approves driver drug test policy

All commercial drivers would be subjected to random testing
By Duke Harrington
Staff Writer

KENNEBUNK — The Kennebunk Board of Selectmen voted 6-1 at its Dec. 9 meeting to adopt a new drug-testing policy covering any employee holding a commercial driver’s license (CDL).

The policy, last updated in 1995, calls on half of all CDL drivers in town to be subject to unannounced random drug testing each year, while 10 percent will be tested for improper use of alcohol, which means reporting to work or within four hours of consuming alcohol, or with a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.04 or greater. That’s half the 0.08 percent limit that would trigger a drunk driving arrest on the highway. All of Kennebunk’s CDL drivers are also subject to drug and alcohol testing when hired, after an accident, or upon the “reasonable suspicion” of a supervisor.

The new rules actually relax the standards a bit. Previously, one quarter of all CDL drivers were subject to random alcohol testing each year.

Still Selectman Al Searles found fault with the new policy, particularly an appendix that includes information on the effects of different drugs on the human body.

“Where does this come from?” he asked. “The descriptions about drugs and alcohol and what they do to you. I haven’t seen things written like this since I was a teenager back in the ‘70s.”

Carolyn Hughes, Kennebunk’s director of human resources, said the language was provided by Affiliated Healthcare Services of Bangor, a firm contracted by the town to conduct its drug testing.

“Well, that’s a good, non-biased situation, isn’t it,” said Searles.

However, Hughes replied that the new policy mirrors that of the Maine Motor Transport Association.

“All we’re really doing is becoming compliant with what already exists on the state and federal level, said selectboard Chairman Kevin Donovan.

“The law is very specific,” agreed Hughes. “This basically just repeats the law without all of the legal terms in it.”

However, Seales also found fault with the fact that policy only applies to CDL drivers, and not anyone who pilots a municipal vehicle.

“I just don’t think it’s fair to require that our employees that have CDL licenses have to adhere to this and the others don’t,” he said.

“If you’re going to have a blanket policy on this, you’re going to run into issues with union contracts,” cautioned Donovan.

Also raising hackles for Searle was the fact that the policy exempts those who drive emergency vehicles in town.

“Why are fire trucks exempt?” he asked. “Their trucks are bigger than the biggest trucks in our highway department.”

Donovan replied that federal law allows people to drive emergency vehicles endorsed by only a regular Class C driver’s license.

However, Town Manager Barry Tibbetts said fire engine drivers still must have training — in Kennebunk that means a 12-hour course — while the exemption only applies to when responding to the scene of an emergency. If a fire engine had to be taken to a repair shop, for example, it would then have the be driven by someone with a CDL license, said Tibbetts.

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