what to do when your coworkers keep coming back from lunch drunk

A reader writes:

I am writing to help a friend who is in a tough predicament at work. She and her colleagues work in an office environment in the same department. The manager works out of state and is hardly in the office. The newest employee is an alcoholic, and the other employee has battled alcoholism for years. Unfortunately, fate has brought these two together. My friend has witnessed both of them taking 4-5-hour lunches, coming back drunk, speaking to clients with slurred speech, and remarking that they are on their way to pick up their kids while under the influence.

My friend has spoken to both of them individually and together to let them know their behavior has become obvious. She has come to me asking for advice. I told her that I would document all indiscretions and continue to talk to them in hopes that she will break through to them. If, after a couple of months they continue with this behavior and/or it gets worse, she should go to HR with the documentation.

I answer this question — and four others — over at Inc. today, where I’m revisiting letters that have been buried in the archives here from years ago (and sometimes updating/expanding my answers to them). You can read it here.

Other questions I’m answering there today include:

  • How to quit a job you just started
  • Skipping a team-building event that’s during my notice period
  • I’m worried my old company will know I wrote a negative Glassdoor review
  • Should I tutor my boss’s son?

{ 201 comments… read them below }

  1. Akcipitrokulo*

    If you know that they are driving while drunk to pick up kids, please call the police.

    1. anonymuss*

      100%. If this happens, call the police, give them the name of the person, their car make, and where you think the police can find them (daycare/school/the basic route).

      1. pope suburban*

        Absolutely. This is a public-safety issue and it shouldn’t be indulged or covered up. Alerting the proper authorities could save lives.

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          And, unfortunately, for some people, this is what it takes to get them to finally get help.

          1. gsa*

            I don’t find that unfortunate all. Could be more unfortunate for them to figure it out after the killed somebody.

                1. Cat Tree*

                  Yep, my brother has a similar problem. His neighbor’s son speeds through the development when he visits. My brother talked to the neighbor who brushed it off and told him to be understanding because the son has Asperger’s. Not only is that super offensive to people who have Asperger’s yet drive safely, the reason wouldn’t make my niece any less dead if she got hit by that car. There are tons of young kids in that development and the speed limit is there for a reason.

                2. KoiFeeder*

                  @Cat Tree

                  I am always available to smack people like that and then brush it off with “you have to be understanding, I’m autistic!”

                3. A Person*

                  @Cat Tree: suggest to your brother that he gets some thick rope and lay it across the road. It acts like a speed bump in that you get a loud bu-bump! but it won’t harm the car’s suspension.

                  (The other suggestion, of course, is to talk to the local cops about the potential injured children.)

                4. Self Employed*

                  @Cat Tree, if the young man with Asperger’s really truly can’t understand how to drive safely because of it, he should not have a license. Hard stop.

                  I am Autistic and I am one of many, many Autistic people who are more scrupulous than the average driver at following rules of safety and courtesy. (My car was totaled in 2008 when I let a pedestrian cross the road and nobody expected me to do that–though I’d been stopped long enough for them to be 3/4 across by the time I was hit, so it isn’t that I hit the brakes suddenly and the other driver couldn’t stop. It just hadn’t occurred to them that a car would be stopped where there wasn’t a light.) But it’s people like HIM who will run over someone’s kid who darts out and then there will be a petition on NextDoor to ban Autistics from having driver’s licenses because his family has been going around saying that’s why he’s an unsafe, discourteous driver.

                  No, he’s an unsafe, discourteous driver because he’s a jackhole. Plenty of young men are like that who aren’t at all neurodivergent.

                5. Janne*

                  @Self Employed but ignoring traffic rules to be courteous isn’t actually safe. That’s why you were hit. Of course people didn’t expect you to stop there. Waving people over when they don’t have the right of way is courteous and nice, but it isn’t safe, because you don’t behave like other drivers will expect you to.
                  (Still I’m very sorry that you were hit and the person that hit you really should have looked out better. They didn’t expect you to stand still there, but they should be able to react to something unexpected like that.)

              1. YouwantmetodoWHAT?! *

                If you drink that much and willingly get into a car to drive and you kill someone, you ABSOLUTELY killed them on purpose.
                Ubers are cheap. No excuse.

              2. Dust Bunny*

                Irrelevant. The other person is not less dead because somebody wasn’t planning to kill them.

                Sorry, I’ve had friends and relatives nearly killed by drunk drivers. I’m out of sympathy. It’s one think to damage your own health/job/etc. with excessive drinking, but it’s quite another to kill somebody else.

              3. Not So NewReader*

                They don’t have to do it on purpose. They don’t have to say, “Let’s go out and pick off some pedestrians!”

                The fact that they got behind the wheel when they should not have stands alone. This is one reason why people have home tests to see what their level is. The lack of malicious intent does not make a person innocent of any wrong doing. If their blood alcohol level is too high then that’s it. People are expected to figure out on their own that should not be driving.

                Just as a general comment, here in NYS if you are sitting behind the wheel of a car, drunk but not driving the car that is a chargeable offense under the DWI laws. Sitting behind the wheel of a non-moving vehicle is read as intent to drive the vehicle. This makes sense to me. If I don’t want to drive, sitting in the driver’s seat is probably the most uncomfortable seat in the car – the steering wheel, pedals etc surround the person as they just sit there.

                Let’s not make excuses for drunk drivers, there is no excuse for endangering people’s lives.

              4. Vetus Vespertilio*

                Intent isn’t the issue. A person accidentally run over by a drunk is no less dead than one who’s run over on purpose.

              5. Foof*

                They don’t have an overaffinity for alcohol on purpose, but how they manage that and the decision to drive impaired is absolutely under their control and “on purpose”. Just like diabetes; it sucks and unfair snd not their fault their body doesn’t process sugar well, but whether to eat the right diet (Again, sucks because other people can eat candy and simple carbs no problem), take meds if needed, ets; yes that they can control and will make all the difference in outcome.

              6. Lizzo*

                In this day and age there are zero–I repeat, ZERO reasons to drive drunk. Getting behind the wheel in that state is a very stupid, selfish, and completely indefensible choice. It’s alarming that you don’t share that point of view.

              7. New Jack Karyn*

                My sister-in-law was killed by a drunk driver. The other driver had a prior offense for drunk driving. Do not tell me ‘they don’t do it on purpose’. Do. Not.

            1. Charlotte Lucas*

              I meant it was unfortunate that it gets to that point. Many people realize they have a problem without putting others’ safety at risk or getting emergency services involved.

              1. Quell*

                It was 100% evident that that is what you meant. I don’t understand the point of cavilling about your comment—doing so just reads as contrarian.

            2. Justme, The OG*

              I understood the above comment as that it’s unfortunate that they could not stop before driving drunk with their children in the car.

      2. Elbe*

        If the LW’s friend knows the daycare or school where the children are, they could also call and warn the them not to release the children to this person. The daycare would have an obligation to not hand the children over to an intoxicated person who intends to drive.

        1. Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers*

          I’d hope they would refuse to hand kids over to an intoxicated person, at all. A drunk person should not be anywhere near children!

          Agree that LW should call the day care centre about this.

          1. Melody*

            My dad was an alcoholic, and would frequently drive his Datsun B-210 with a bottle of vodka in a paper bag between his legs. One day, he went to pick up my brother, who was attending a Catholic school in Orange County. My dad was so drunk that he barreled through the closed gates (separating the parking lot from the play area) and came within inches of killing two children who were close by. After that, my dad was prohibited from going to the school.
            It was always so embarrassing when he was that drunk, and so tragic that he was allowed to drive like that when my brother and I were in the back seat, reciting the Rosary in an effort to ward off an early death.
            His alcoholism killed him when I was 17 and my brother was 13. Best thing to ever happen to us kids.

            1. MassMatt*

              It’s amazing to me that drunk driving was so tolerated in the US for so long. My high school class (mid 80’s) was the first to graduate without at least one death for many years. When I saw my sister’s yearbook (she graduated just 5 years earlier) it had a 2-page spread of kids that died, most of them in a single drunk wreck. And this was not a huge school. Driving drunk used to be considered funny! Huge change in just a few years, mostly I think due to Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

              Definitely take action now, don’t wait for the absentee boss to get around to it.

              1. Self Employed*

                I remember when the Libertarians had a position against drunk driving laws. Wow, that didn’t age well, did it?

                1. Chas*

                  Yikes, I hadn’t heard about that before, but it reminds me of the comedian Sam Kinison being killed by a drunk driver after making jokes about drunk driving.

        2. Calliope*

          I would recommend doing this as well – not necessarily in lieu of calling the cops but because the cops might not help. A friend who called in a similar situation (seeing someone intoxicated getting into their car) was told they wouldn’t do anything unless she called from the road and personally witnessed erratic driving. So it is worthwhile having a backup way of addressing the situation.

          1. AntsOnMyTable*

            That is a shame. I use to work at a convenience store and police definitely would do something when we told them someone seemed drunk and was getting in their car. I mean they might not be able to necessarily find them by the time they got there but they didn’t say I needed to personally see them driving erratically.

        3. Nerfmobile*

          My daughter’s daycare had VERY explicit statements in their policies and procedures that they would not release children to people who were drunk or suspected of otherwise being under the influence. I always assumed that somewhere along the way the owner or the site had had a bad experience with a parent.

        4. Ellie*

          Yes, I think that’s a better plan than calling the police when they see them next heading out the door. The police might be too busy to deal with it.

          I wouldn’t wait for it to happen again, I’d call the school, the daycare, any co-parents or relatives that I knew the contact details for, and the police’s non-emergency line and let them know the situation. One of them should be able to put a stop to this. And definitely loop in your boss, they should not be anywhere around clients.

    2. Pinecone*

      Absolutely! Please don’t let picking up the kids while under the influence, slide. Even just driving impaired should be reported. Immediately.

      1. Persephone Mongoose*

        Yes, I was shocked that the LW advised her friend to go to HR after a *couple of months* with no change. This needed to be nipped in the bud yesterday.

        1. pancakes*

          Same. My eyebrows shot up. I’m pretty anti- calling the cops in many situations but seeing someone put their kids (and others) in this kind of danger isn’t one of them.

        2. MassMatt*

          Yeah, I would have pushed for action faster than that even if there was no drunk driving involved. These people are regularly out for 4-5 hour “lunches”? WTH is the boss, how is he not noticing that they are getting no work done? And who is doing their work while they’re out drinking?

          1. Avi*

            Seriously. Even without the aggravated circumstances involving alcohol, two of their coworkers are routinely AWOL for more than half the day and they’re just going to let that sit for a month or two and see how it works out? I can’t think of many managers who would be appreciative of that kind of attitude.

        3. Pennyworth*

          What was she meant to be waiting for – the drunks to totally alienate the firm’s clients, or for someone to be killed by their drunk driving? Really muddled thinking and advice.

    3. RagingADHD*

      Indeed. This is one of those “Nice isn’t kind” situations.

      DUI is a big deal.

      DUI to or around a school, and *with kids in the car* is a great big hairy stinking Very Big Deal.

      1. Clorinda*

        Kids in the car, kids in other cars, kids on the sidewalk, kids crossing the street . . . . Honestly, the kids in the car are the safest ones in this scenario. This cannot be allowed to continue.

        1. Observer*

          What do you want to bet that the kids are not being properly restrained? Which is to say that they are as at great risk as the kids outside of the car.

      2. Filosofickle*

        I served on a jury for a drunk driving case. TBH the defendant probably was under the influence, but the cops did not do their job. There was zero conclusive evidence so we had to acquit. But we had a jury member that was totally breaking down over it because the defendant was pulled over after dropping their child off at school, still within view of the school. (They were pulled over for an illegal turn, not due to suspicion of DUI.) That juror was so upset, justifiably, over what might happen to the children. We spent many extra hours reviewing the evidence, reviewing the jury instructions, and re-voting because it was so upsetting to her. She left crying.

    4. James*

      I’m not usually one for calling the police, but in this case yeah, it’s entirely justified. On two counts.

      First, obviously, there are the kids and other innocent people who could be hurt. Being arrested for drunk driving is bad, but killing someone is vastly worse. This is, quite literally, a matter of life and death. One of my cousins was killed by a drunk driver. I know it can feel disrespectful to call the police on a coworker, but that’s infinitely preferable to knowing that you could have done something. People get over it, or at worst you both move on with your lives; it’s hard to do that from a grave.

      Second, there’s a company safety aspect. These people are driving back to the office while drunk. That’s a serious issue, warranting intervention from the company–up to and including legal action. The fact that this has been going on for a while opens your company up to a lawsuit. The company I work for was once sued because a woman tripped over some equipment that stuck up 1/8″ (I know this, because I measured it), and I’ve had to negotiate with someone to prevent a lawsuit due to survey paint getting on his car; believe me, if someone is even inconvenienced by the actions of these people your company will be targeted.

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        Being arrested for drunk driving is bad, but killing someone is vastly worse.

        The life you save could also be the driver’s. Just one more reason to get over any hangup and make the call.

        1. pope suburban*

          Exactly. Plus, this is an extra hard read for me right now because someone in my area was recently driving under the influence and fatally hit two children outside their school, in full view of parents and students. That’s a family grieving and a whole lot of people traumatized. If I think I can do something to prevent that, well, it’s an easy call to make, even as much as I distrust law enforcement.

        2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          This would have been the case for one of my great-grandfathers. He was involved in a car crash – single car, drunk driver – him. Sadly he also killed his wife, who was ejected from the car during one of the times it rolled (they also believed that seatbelts were for people who weren’t competent drivers).

          They were on their way to a birthday dinner for one of my uncles – and the whole family had to pass by the crash. Really put a damper on the whole birthday celebration.

          1. SD*

            My father, b. 1916, believed seat belts were a Communist plot. He cut them out of his cars and then sewed them back together when every 2 years he traded in the car. OMG. Just like a Q-anoner today, there was no point talking about it. Me, I’m a seat belt fanatic who believes in physics – an object in motion, etc., etc.

            1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

              I was raised by a mom who wouldn’t even crank the car till all belts were buckled. That was her grandma and grandpa in the crash she went past. My grandpa showed me pictures to make sure I knew what the potential cost of drinking and driving was (I was 15 at the time – my parents were less than pleased). The lessons stuck well though – always wear a seatbelt and never drink and drive.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Thank you. All you have to do is see this once OP and it’s a police call. You do not need months of documentation.

        And I’d bet anything that those kids in that car would thank you for calling the police. When I worked retail if someone came in drunk (I could see the vehicle) then I would call the police as that person left. All it takes is one time to kill. They don’t have to keep driving over and over.

        I am sure that your company would be named in any civil suit that might happen.

      3. Amaranth*

        I feel like LW’s friend should call the police and ask how to go about this because I’m not sure the police could do anything unless they actually witness them in the vehicle. It sounds like calling the police and giving them the daycare info and the time they go to pick up the kids would be taken more seriously, and it has the advantage of a set time and place. Maybe HR/Boss could come into the office and witness their absence and behavior and take them for drug/bac testing. If LW’s friend is the only one who witnesses all this, it seems likely to be her word against theirs.

      4. Keymaster of Gozer*

        I nearly died 2 years ago when a lorry driver smacked into my car on the motorway because he was driving impaired. I hand over my car keys to my husband if I even have to take low dose valium.

        I’m gonna have PTSD for life because of the sight of that thing barrelling straight toward me in my rear view mirror.

    5. J3*

      To me, drunk driving is one of the most recklessly life-threatening things a person can do, but I do want to throw in a countervailing note that drunk driving might end with someone getting killed, and calling the police to solve a problem might also end with someone getting killed. One valuable thought exercise I’ve participated in is actually journaling out some ideas for solving real, serious problems like this without/before calling the police. And I’m not just trying to invoke it in a condescending way like “oh well think again!!!!!!”, I mean it is a really simple but powerful exercise to actually try out :)

      1. James*

        Normally I’m not one for calling the authorities either. If these people had only been taking long lunches and dealing with clients while drunk, that’d be one thing, a thing that should be handled via internal disciplinary measures. Most places I’ve worked have policies against this; the rest have believed it to be such an obvious thing not to do that they didn’t bother. Put them on a PIP, fire them, whatever your internal policy dictates.

        The issue is picking up the kids. At that point, they’re putting the lives of children at risk, in a situation where the company has no authority. Not just their children, either; parking lots at schools are not the safest places, for anyone. That’s what triggers moving this to official channels.

        If the LW’s boss wants to say “Do it once more and we’re calling the cops” that may work. It may not–they may be too far gone–but it may. But they’re certainly not obliged to give the men another chance. This isn’t a situation where second chances are warranted.

        1. Amaranth*

          Well, they are also driving back from the restaurant, but it would be tough to time everything to make sure an officer witnesses their return, and I doubt they can come into a privately owned building and do a breath test. If the employees have been drinking for hours, I’d guess they’d still blow a high bac even if there is a wait before getting the kids?

        2. Lizzo*

          “Do it once more and we’re calling the cops” might also prompt these guys to hide what they’re doing, which will make it more difficult to catch them and put a stop to the behavior.

      2. Observer*

        What other solutions do you have to offer?

        I’m serious. Obviously step one is getting HR involved. But the CW has already said something to the drivers, so if HR can’t get them to stop driving drunk, what other ” ideas for solving real, serious problems like this without/before calling the police” would you suggest.

        You say that you are not trying to be condescending or snootily telling people to “think again”. But that is EXACTLY what you are doing. You are telling people that if they just “journal” a bit and focus on the ONE GOAL of avoiding the police that SUCH a powerful exercise that they must come up with something.

        Well guess what? The OP effectively DID try to come up with an alternative solution and they came up short! Your suggestion ignores that while totally failing to provide any alternatives whatsoever. Just “Think about it.”

        1. James*

          I think it depends.

          When you’re drafting policy, this makes sense. You take that option off the table, and see if you can still come up with a viable solution. It’s a common enough tactic; I routinely am in meetings where the whole point is to find ways to do a task without triggering the need to involve various regulatory agencies (to be clear, we’re not avoiding the law; in my job many laws are put in place to prevent us from taking certain actions without serious consideration). And it’s well known that constraints inspire creativity. If I told you “Write a story” the average person would struggle to get started; if I told you “Write about a day in the life of a brick”, the average person would write something pretty interesting. By taking normal options off the table you avoid defaulting to well-worn tactics and force yourself to examine the problem, not merely apply pre-established solutions to it regardless of their applicability.

          The issue here is the immediacy of the threat. The kids are going to be put at risk NOW. They may not live to see sunrise. It’s simply not time to speculate on ways to avoid police involvement. The goal should be to protect life.

      3. Ace in the Hole*

        So what other solution do you propose for when Drunk Coworker is about to get behind the wheel with the intent of driving to a school?

        Apprehending Drunk Coworker yourself or preventing them from leaving is illegal. Calling HR is useless in the short term, since they can’t stop Drunk Coworker from getting in that car either. You could try to verbally redirect, but there’s a good chance that Drunk Coworker won’t listen. You could offer to drive Drunk Coworker yourself, but even if you have the ability and opportunity to do that it will make things worse in the long run since it’s enabling.

        Law enforcement exists for a reason. Yes, the US has a serious problem with police violence… so summoning law enforcement for frivolous incidents or false pretenses is a bad thing to do. But calling the police to stop a drunk driver is not a frivolous misuse of institutional power. It’s what they’re FOR. The chance of an unchecked drunk driver killing or maiming someone is far greater than the chance that the police dispatched to stop that drunk driver will kill or maim someone.

        1. Quell*

          Truthfully, yes, I might do this or similar and alert the school and call social services rather than call the police, depending on the situation and context. Driving intoxicated can get people killed; calling the cops can also get people killed—that’s where we are. We are far past the point, in this country, where any rational person of conscience can call the police on a POC without considering that doing so could result in that person’s death. Yes, it vastly complicates life not to be able to trust the police not to murder people. That’s why J3’s suggestion of safety planning for these kinds of situations is a good one, and why guides such as this one exist: https://www.autostraddle.com/how-to-never-call-the-cops-again-a-guide-with-a-few-alternatives-to-calling-police/

          1. Maggie*

            That article is incredibly victim-blamey and provides no actual advice on what to do if you are in a truly, actually dangerous situation. And Im not talking about seeing a homeless person or a loud party or even drugs or a street fight. A Drunk driver on the road is truly dangerous. So are many other things that that article doesn’t discuss- actual violent dangerous crime. The idea that you could never ever call the police again is disingenuous and “handle it on your own” is a good way to get hurt and still not solve the problem.

            1. Coder von Frankenstein*

              The comments on that article are something to read.

              “What are good ways to deescalate actively violent situations without calling the cops? The only time I ever called the cops, it was because I heard a person screaming ‘help me, please help me’ in the alley behind my house late at night. … The person getting beaten up lived, and was taken to the ER, and the people beating him up (they also had a gun) escaped before the cops arrived.”

              The author of the article did not offer any suggestions on how to deescalate this situation.

              1. TL -*

                Yeah the only response to “how do I deal with violent situations?” was prevent them from happening by being a good neighbor.

                I have called the cops/911 because 1) car exploded into flames on the highway and 2) random dude violently shoving his girlfriend around on the subways stairs while she cried and 3) gun violence.

                None of that was avoidable by being a good neighbor, none of it happened in my neighborhood, and all of it really did require highly visable authority figures trained to respond to the situation.

                1. Self Employed*

                  If I’m robbed in my neighborhood, it’s probably going to be by one of my neighbors in my apartment building.

              2. Neptune*

                Just saying that the author of that article appears to be a white woman (based on referring to white people as “us”) and most of the suggestions rely on being a nice, approachable, friendly neighbor who other people will want to help and protect. There are few suggestions for what you should do if you are the wrong sort of person who your neighbors don’t happen to feel like aiding, and absolutely nothing for situations that are immediately, seriously violent or dangerous – like, for example, drink driving. I mean, based on that article I guess the answer is “well why didn’t you already establish a mutual aid network so this person wouldn’t have driven drunk in the first place?”

                I mean, there are people in the comments to that article worried that they did the wrong thing by calling the cops on a violent fight where they could hear a woman screaming “help me, help me, stop”, or a man appearing to try and kidnap a child from a playground. And the author has no response to that, despite being active in the comments. I do believe that there are often much better alternatives to calling the cops, but it’s not honest to act like you can just be nice to your neighbors and learn some de-escalation strategies and everything will be fine, which is what that article boils down to.

          2. SchuylerSeestra*

            I’m a black woman. This is a call the police situation. This isn’t time to weigh the possibility of police brutality. It’s an get the authorizes involved before they kill someone. Full stop.

          3. TL -*

            In 2019 there were 10,142 people killed in drunk driving accidents, and 999 shot by cops. Even adjusting for race (Black Americans are also overrepresented in drunk driving fatalities, at least looking at driver demographics – all I can find quickly), I think it’s fair to say the drunk driver was a bigger risk than cops in the moment.

            This doesn’t at all negate the need for reform, but honestly all the advice I see centered around “never call the cops” really boils down in “in urgent/dangerous situations, do nothing.” when the cops do provide an essential service.

            1. TL -*

              And also, all 10,142 drunk driving deaths were preventable at no risk to anyone else. I’m sure many of the cop deaths were, too, but I would not think all of them were, by any means.

          4. Observer*

            That’s why J3’s suggestion of safety planning for these kinds of situations is a good one,

            What he offered was not a sensible suggestion for safety planning. There simply are not always alternatives to the police. And the relative risks absolutely do not add up.

            As for the article you linked to, the kindest thing I can say is that it’s fact free. It also dismisses actual dangers, puts a ridiculous burden on people and offers all sorts of suggestions that are likely to lead to more violence, not less.

            1. Self Employed*

              There are probably neighborhoods where forming mutual aid cooperatives would work. Mine is not one of those neighborhoods: half the people on my floor are more likely to rob me than help. Every time we have someone try to organize a mutual aid group, they end up organizing a mean girls clique instead. The last one made up a lot of whoppers about how she sued the management, but there were no lawsuits filed in our local court and all the “fired” people still did rotations to cover absences. When I started casting shade on her tall tales, she told everyone I was dangerous and now nobody will talk to me.

              None of my friends are the kind of people who would be at all useful for a violent situation even if they lived close enough to respond–I hang out with geeks, not gangbangers.

      4. Sylvan*

        I’m not sure journaling is an appropriate reaction to a drunk driver heading towards a school. I mean, yeah, list out pros and cons on paper when you have time, but in this case, you don’t.

      5. J3*

        With due respect, I’m not sure why folks are pressing me to give them a list of solutions– my post was literally sharing an idea for how people can begin to self-empower around thinking about policing alternatives! Thinking through alternative plans/resources in a purpose-specific way before a crisis comes up was novel for me– if it isn’t for you, that’s genuinely great.

        1. J3*

          And I think it’s odd to treat this like it’s an abstract or theoretical consideration. Drunk driving dramatically increases the risk that someone will get hurt or killed, and so does prompting a confrontational police situation.

          1. Detective Amy Santiago*

            For me it comes down to what I can live with.

            And at the end of the day, I’d feel far less guilt about a drunk driver getting killed by cops than I would about innocents dying at the hands of a drunk driver.

            1. J3*

              I’m definitely of a similar mind to you, I think, in terms of how to think through the risk calculations. What’s also informing me here though is: The kids could get killed by the police, as has happened. Any bystander could get killed by the police, as happens. It’s not about whether I feel bad or not for the drunk driver, it’s about the risk of sparking a volatile situation that could put anyone around in danger. To be clear, I feel the drunk driver is themselves already a similarly volatile and life-threatening situation. “Send the police” and “Don’t do anything” are both very unpredictable, dangerous situations.

          2. James*


            ~28 people die per day due to drunk driving. Total of 10,142 people. Bear in mind, that was the lowest number since the NHTSA started keeping records; it’s normally higher.


            999 people were shot by the police in 2019.

            Even allowing some leeway for the discrepancy in sources (if anything, the Washington Post should be inclined to give higher numbers, not lower), and ignoring the role demographics plays, drunk driving is still an order of magnitude greater risk than calling the police.

            1. Let's use stats*

              THANK YOU. Also, per WAPO all but 54 of those 999 were armed…..

              The media likes to portray police shooting as a rampaging epidemic. Considering the roughly 40 million police-citizen encounters that occur each year, it’s actually an incredibly relative low number. The cases are publicized so much it makes us all feel that it is incredibly frequent, but that’s simply not statistically accurate. There may well have been 54 unarmed, unjustified shootings, each a tragedy worthy of investigation and perhaps prosecution, but that is no where near the 10k + killings by drunk drivers in the same time period.

              Respectfully, this is a no brainer…..call the cops.

              1. Tequila & Oxford Commas*

                I have no doubt that many of the shootings of armed civilians were unjustified, too.

                Obligatory newly-woke-white-person-response aside, hell yes I would call (and I have called) the cops on anyone driving drunk, especially if there were children involved.

              2. Chantel*

                >The cases are publicized so much it makes us all feel that it is incredibly frequent, but that’s simply not statistically accurate.


                Calling the cops in this situation is entirely warranted.

              3. Pippa K*

                Well, if per your user name you want to use stats here, evaluations of the rate of police killings are usually based on number of people killed by police per capita, compared across jurisdictions or countries or years. By that measure, the United States has one of the highest rates in the world, and the highest among countries usually called ‘advanced democracies’ or ‘highly developed’ or similar. “But look at the millions they didn’t kill” isn’t a commonly-cited statistical measure.

                PS like most people, I’d call the cops in this case.

                1. Observer*

                  No one is arguing that there are too many police killings. What they ARE saying is that the idea that police encounter = extreme risk of death just doesn’t add up.

              4. Self Employed*

                Just because police said they were armed doesn’t mean they actually were. A lot of people are shot while holding or reaching for cellphones, water bottles, etc.

        2. Coder von Frankenstein*

          I think people are pressing for a list of solutions because, if your idea is helpful in this scenario, one would expect that you could apply it and come up with something.

        3. Phoenix Wright*

          I know we’re supposed to be nice to each other, but I’m gonna be blunt here: this sounds like you want to feel morally superior and enlightened without actually saying anything meaningful. This isn’t a thought experiment, this is a real situation that happened in real life. People are asking you for solutions because you’re the one who claimed that people should come up with them in the first place.

          Hopefully this mess was solved safely for everyone involved.

          1. J3*

            I’m sorry if my tone came across that way, that wasn’t my intent! I feel like the usual format here is Allison posts advice/questions, and then people chime in with further ideas/perspectives, sometimes mildly disagreeing? I think it’s weird to suggest that someone sharing a way to approach a problem is secretly positing a “thought experiment”, when we’re literally all here making conversation about anonymous scenarios. It’s not a thought experiment, it’s an extremely simple problem-solving approach that I’ve used and found useful in my own life. I don’t really know what else to say, I feel it was a very bog-standard AAM comment?

            1. RagingADHD*

              Okay, so work your extremely simple problemsolving approach. People are asking you how your suggestion works, what would that look like?

              If you think it’s something everyone should do, lead the way. Journal a bunch of non-police options for dealing with a drunk person behind the wheel, and share them.

              Let’s all be enlightened together.

              1. Caraway Seed*

                This seems unnecessarily confrontational. You can disagree without being rude about it.

        4. pancakes*

          The question isn’t about how people can empower themselves to start thinking about alternatives – the question is about how this specific situation should be handled.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Thank you. We do this a lot on this forum- go from the specific to the broad perspective and I really doubt that it helps the OP that much.

          2. Quell*

            Yes, and it’s a difficult question without a cut and dried answer, sorry. Job one is to keep the kids and other drivers safe. Job two is to keep the driver safe. DEPENDING ON THE CIRCUMSTANCES (emphasis for Observer, who insists I’m making assumptions I’m not making) accomplishing both jobs MAY involve ideas other than calling the cops here in the real world, and those alternatives might suck in various ways: hiding the keys, possibly putting a nail in a tire, calling CFS, calling the school, calling the spouse or S.O., etc. If you’ve ever been a victim of domestic violence, for example, you may have learned that calling the cops doesn’t necessarily help. The cops aren’t always safe, which is why avoiding calling the cops is often covered in certain kinds of safety planning. If you object to being encouraged to think critically about this situation, I don’t know what to tell you. Alison already gave the LW advice. This is the comment section. “ Take advantage of this moment to think about your non-police de-escalation options in various situations” is a legitimate comment. IDK why it’s hitting so many people smack in the overlap of the “I’m scared for my kids” and “I want to trust cops” Venn diagram.

      6. Detective Amy Santiago*


        If you’re going to put other people’s lives in danger, I am not going to hesitate to call the authorities. There is literally no excuse for drunk driving.

      7. Wintermute*

        The extremely low chance of a bad outcome doesn’t justify not acting in this case, in any sense. Someone who is driving drunk has chosen to accept the consequences, period. If it’s in my power those consequences won’t include a dead family.

        There’s two things I will not hesitate to call the cops about– violence in public, and drunk driving. I won’t have an innocent person’s death on my conscience. I’m not going to watch someone getting beaten down or someone driving drunk and not step in.

      8. Ellie*

        That’s why I’d ring the non-emergency line, well before it happens again. If the police want to deal with it, they can set up a scenario where they wait for them to come out of work and test them as they get into their cars. There’s much less chance for people to get hurt.

        But this is such dangerous behaviour, you really can’t let it slide. The OP has already spoken to them, with no result. You have to protect those kids.

    6. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      STRONGLY AGREE. Driving while drunk makes them a danger to everyone on the road – and even more so if they are going to a place with little kids who could possibly be harder to see than a full sized adult.

      1. A Person*

        It’s not even “possibly harder to see”. They ARE harder to see, AND they have trouble understanding that fact because they’re still developing “theory of mind”.

        I remember telling a friend’s kid (who was about 4 at the time) that the great big car that was so easy for them to see? To the car, they were a tiny little thing who was hard to see. He couldn’t really understand it, but he appeared to believe me.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          Well, we don’t know the age of the kids in question. If it’s a daycare then yes – the kids are definitely way harder to see. However, if it’s a middle schooler – I’m the parent of a 12yo who is as tall as I am. They would be just as easy to see for a non-impaired person as I am.

          Well, a person who is non-impaired and paying attention to their surroundings.

    7. Detective Amy Santiago*

      If you know that they are driving while drunk to pick up kids, please call the police.

      Fixed that. If they are getting behind the wheel drunk in any capacity, it’s time to call the cops.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        Very much agree. I mean, there are people who tell me ‘what did you expect? You should have fought back’ when I relate that I went to the police after I was sexually assaulted and they did absolutely nothing. (Boyfriend at the time was a rich white guy and I was none of those three, police didn’t believe me)

        But, I’d still call the police if it happened to me again. I’d also expect anyone, including family, to call the authorities if I suddenly decided to go out driving while off my face on painkillers.

    8. Coder von Frankenstein*

      That might be good advice when somebody’s had a few too many at a party, but not in the situation LW describes. This is chronic, ongoing behavior. You cannot commit to being there every day to take their keys.

      1. LisaNeedsBraces*

        We’re talking about what to do in the moment when someone says “I’m picking up the kids” while drunk. You can’t commit to calling the cops on your coworker everyday either.

        To address the chronic behavior, I agree with Allison.

        1. Coder von Frankenstein*

          The cops and the legal system can take drunk drivers off the road for much longer than one evening. Even if this DUI doesn’t cost them their license, it’s one step closer to the one that does.

        2. Foof*

          Well if they aren’t yet on the road it’s worth saying “you sound drunk; do not drive. Call an uber. If you get in your car I’m calling the cops”. Takes guts yes and not the first thing most people would think of but if you’re trying to plan what to do in a scenario where soneone is /about/ to drive drunk, that’s it (if they are your bff and it’s a one off lack of judgement can be a little nicer about it snd offer to drive but wouldn’t make it a habit unless it’s planned designated driver rolls or something)

          1. LisaNeedsBraces*

            Exactly my 1st point. By the time you’ve called the cops, they’re already on the road potentially hurting someone. Better to prevent them from being on the road at all shouldn’t be a controversial statement or a defense of drunk driving. I’m not sure why people are taking it that way.

      1. Erin*

        Yes. I’m married to a recovering alcoholic. A DUI would end his career and our livelihood. If I ever knew he was driving drunk I would call the police on him anyway. There is no reasoning or bargaining with an active addict under the influence.

    9. James*

      “And good heavens at the people who are saying they’d rather their coworker get extra judicially executed by the cops in front of their children….”

      The odds of that happening are essentially nil, lower if he’s not armed (in 93% of the shootings in 2019 the suspect was armed). Anyone saying that calling the cops on the guy is a death sentence–or even puts him at noticeably elevated risk of death–is misrepresenting the situation. The truth is, the cop is more likely to be injured on the way to pick the guy up than the guy is to be killed by the cop.

      There is NO discussion of extra-judicial killing here. There was a discussion of risk, and the numbers pretty much answered that question; at least, I’ve seen no objection to them (a discussion of them, but that’s not the same thing).

      Also, have you ever tried to take the keys from a drunk that believes he needs to go somewhere? It’s not easy. In college it was fine, a bit of rough-and-tumble was expected and even encouraged in my group of friends (we blew off steam by beating the crap out of each other, with both participants consenting). In the working world, that’s considered assault. If you’re okay with being assaulted by a drunk to prevent them from driving that’s fine–I’d do it–but it’s not something that most people would recommend or advise. But it gets worse. You’d have to do this daily. And it would get worse. Drunk people are not reasonable; that’s why they can’t be behind the wheel in the first place. If they see you constantly getting in their way, soon defeating you is going to be the priority. If you’re lucky, it’ll stop with an assault charge. Being drunk and angry can lead to someone being shot.

      To put it as bluntly as possible: the option with the lowest potential body count is calling the cops.

    10. staceyizme*

      Agreed. There’s absolutely no way around this. (How is this even a question? Just advise the officer when they leave.) Any discomfort over reporting a colleague can be offset by the idea that you’ve saved people from being maimed, killed or traumatized by their compromised function. The business side is separate, in my view. Four or five hour lunches? That’s likely to show up in productivity: you probably needn’t report it. But speaking to clients with slurred speech? No- that’s also a “must report this” scenario.

    11. PinaColada*

      YES! I was coming here to say this. They could kill someone, including themselves or their kids. Call the police!

    1. Lady Heather.*

      Asshole? Homicidal maniac?

      Person suffering from automobile use disorder?

      Alcohol addiction is an explanation for drinking – not for drunk driving.

    2. James*

      I think this is a case where the technical term became a pejorative. The earlier term was “drunk”.

      It all means the same thing. These guys are dangerous. And if the term is a bit insulting, well, I grew up poor, I specialize in fossils and rocks, and have very little respect for “men” who put their own children in danger. And I’ve struggled with drinking myself. I’ll use “alcoholic”.

      As to Bee Kind’s more general point, English is a poetic language. Everyone knows that the person is more than just the drinking problem. The drinking problem happens to be the central focus of this discussion, however. If we were discussing softball we could say “The coach made a horrible call” without someone complaining that the coach is just filling a role, he’s more than just a coach. Same with “father”, “driver”, or…well, any other label. It’s only when the label has a negative connotation that people object. It’s an inconsistency that’s fairly telling: it’s an attempt to protect the person’s feelings. In this case, that’s a bad thing. These people are putting their children’s lives at risk; they SHOULD feel shame. The action is shameful.

      This is exactly the sort of thing shame evolved to deal with. It gets a bad reputation because many of the group norms associated with shame are arbitrary or even destructive, but there’s a baby in that bathwater. Sometimes the norms exist to prevent harm to the group, and shame is one sort of social pressure that can be applied to ensure compliance with those norms.

    3. Archaeopteryx*

      Sorry, but this is a bit ridiculous. A person can be an alcoholic, an asthmatic, a lawyer, a choleopterist, a mother, and a Presbyterian – all at the same time even. What’s relevant in this OP’s problem is the fact that they are alcoholics.

      The desire to be kind to people with addictions is good, but making balloon animals out of the English language like this – “My coworker is a person with Substance Use Disorder” – comes across as an annoying bad faith reading (OP is not reducing them to labels, just relaying only the relevant information.)

      I really do respect your impulse to combat judgment/disrespect of people with addiction issues, but this is a counterproductive way to do it. It just makes people roll their eyes, because no one talks like that.

    4. hmm*

      I’m going to keep calling myself an alcoholic. I’m going to keep calling my relatives alcoholics, because that’s what they refer to themselves as, and that’s what they are. I’m going to keep going to Alcoholics Anonymous, and not Substance Use Disorder Alcohol Anonymous.

      A majority of people with this specific disorder still call themselves alcoholics. I wouldn’t be surprised if the employees made it known to OP/the office that they are, in fact, alcoholics. This comment just reads as virtue signaling.

    5. JSPA*

      1. “Substance use disorder-alcohol” is the diagnosis, if you’re a clinician. People can self-identify and describe their struggles as they see fit. “Alcoholic” and “battling alcoholism” are terms not-uncommonly used by people with that particular disorder.

      2. “Substance use disorder-alcohol” is the diagnosis, whether or not a person is in recovery. At the same time, it’s highly relevant that the drinking is happening in the context of a larger problem (as opposed to skewed norms, in the absence of an addiction).

      This situation thus demands further qualifiers.

      Surely we don’t want to imply either that everyone with “substance use disorder-alcohol” takes 4 hour alcohol-focused lunches and drives while incapacitated; nor that all people who drink to excess during a work day automatically meet the criteria of, “Substance use disorder-alcohol.”

  2. Jj*

    I have to disagree slightly with Alison tutoring advise. If you say you are full up, then word will get around and you’ll lose a lot of potential word of mouth referrals which is the main way most tutors get business. It’d be better, I think, to say something like “I have a policy of not mixing my two jobs this way, but I’m so flattered you thought of me. I have three other great tutors I can refer you to for your son, and of course, if anyone else you know is looking for a tutor, I’d love if you kept me in mind!”

    1. Sara without an H*

      I like your wording, since it helps the OP to politely establish that they are serious about keeping their two roles separate. The manager may simply not know any other tutors and would be satisfied with a referral from someone he/she knows.

      1. Caliente*

        I agree but I’ve known plenty off bosses who think whatever applies to everyone else surely can’t apply to them. Not saying they’re all like this at all but plenty are so know what you’re dealing with I guess.

    2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      I really like this as well. It’s a nice firewall so that one job doesn’t impact on the other. It could also help you get referrals from other tutors in the area who may be in the same boat.

  3. Bernice Clifton*

    Regarding the drunk coworkers – this isn’t like your coworkers went to a Happy Hour, drank too much and acted silly and got in an Uber. That would not be a MYOB scenario but this is not.

    The tutoring thing: I really wish especially bosses but even coworkers would make it clear in situations like asking someone for tutoring or pet-sitting or house-sitting that it’s totally fine for your coworker/employee to say no, even if you’re paying them for their help.

    1. Tryinghard*

      I hate when people try to pressure me to do personal IT work for them. I’ve gotten good at the “I don’t do hardware / software work outside of work but here are some places I recommend.”. That being said,it still hard when those people are higher in the food chain. My boss has never asked me, just other managers which my boss or I can shut down.

      I make the same rule for family. Once I start down that path anything that breaks is my fault.

  4. J!*

    LW who’s a tutor: Students can apply themselves and still fail on what seems like basic stuff, especially if they’re struggling with undiagnosed learning disabilities. I agree with Alison’s advice not to do it, but I’d consider not making a snap judgment about the boss’s kid being lazy or not applying themselves when you’ve never worked with them.

    1. Student Affairs Sally*

      This times 1,000. That line REALLY bothered me, and it’s concerning that someone who is paid to help students learn seems to not get that there can often be many barriers to student understanding beyond “laziness”.

      1. EmKay*

        I’m concerned the LW writer’s boss thought this was a good idea. He didn’t ask for a tutor **recommendation**, he asked for his subordinate to do it. Which he thinks is appropriate. It is not.

        Not only would I not tutor the kid, I would absolutely not give the name of a colleague as a recommendation.

        1. tamarack and fireweed*

          I think this may be one of those ask culture vs. guess culture things. Would you think the same thing if, say, the OP had a sideline doing flower arrangements that the boss likes? I, too, would say “no” to tutoring my boss’s kids, but if the OP has a side job doing tutoring it’s not vastly out of line to ask – if it is 100% clear that “no, I’d rather not” is a perfectly fine response to get.

      2. Distracted Librarian*

        Agree. OP, if you’re going to work as a tutor, please educate yourself about the many, many reasons students can struggle, even with work that you think they should be able to complete easily. If you’re communicating this kind of judgment to your students, you could be doing real harm.

    2. Tricksie*

      Or anxiety. One of my teens is struggling mightily with academics right now because of anxiety and we’re starting meds to hopefully help.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        Mine recently started Zoloft. I am generally skeptical about such things for kids, but there was a clear necessity to do something. A couple of weeks after she started, one of her teachers spontaneously commented about the improvement. It was night and day.

    3. Spearmint*

      I noticed that, too. I failed two classes my senior year of high school, and while I had an ok GPA in college I also had to drop 6 classes over the course of 5 years because I wasn’t doing well.

      To some teachers, I probably looked like a “smart but lazy” student who didn’t value work, organization, or education (I even had one tell me as much). In reality, I was dealing with multiple severe anxiety disorders, depression, anxiety-induced insomnia, and then-undiagnosed ADHD.

    4. Observer*

      Students can apply themselves and still fail on what seems like basic stuff, especially if they’re struggling with undiagnosed learning disabilities.

      This, THIS!

      There are so many ways this can happen, including a kid who manages to coast because they are smart, teachers are being too “nice, and / or no one is addressing gaps because the kid is officially getting passing grades. And then they hit a wall where that doesn’t work anymore. I’ve seen this happen, and it’s not easy for the kid.

      OP, if you are reading this (I know this is an old letter), if you plan to continue with tutoring, you need to know that it’s worth doing some checking before deciding that failure is just a sign of lazy entitlement, even when it looks “obvious” to you.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        This happened to my brother freshman year in college. He was smart enough in high school to get through (even AP courses) without having to really learn how to study. Freshman year in college he nearly flunked out from not knowing how to study. Fortunately one of his professors realized what was happening and helped him learn how to study – that probably saved his college career.

    5. Spotted Kitty*

      Yes, this was me with math past Geometry. I was an A student but absolutely couldn’t handle that math class. I got a C, the first C of MY LIFE, in Algebra II. I ended up taking the remedial math class my senior year of high school to try to redeem myself and ended up almost getting a C in there too. The teacher let us do a report on a mathematician for extra credit, and I was able to boost my C up to a B. My brain just does not process higher math.

      1. TechWorker*

        Yea I thought the same. I don’t know if this class is math or something else (though that’s definitely one of the most common things to tutor!) but people can struggle at any level – and definitely with the material taught to 17 year olds.

    6. Vanellope*

      Yes, as the parent of a child with dyslexia, that line broke my heart . Before her diagnosis and before we had better strategies to help her learn my daughter worked so hard, to the point of tears, and still did not do well in certain areas. Grades are by no means the only indicator of a child’s motivation in a class.

  5. ATX*

    Glassdoor story: a friend of mine worked for a small company for 4 years, left, and posted their negative Glassdoor review (which was the only one at the time). I recently looked at it and there were 5 glowing and positive reviews, stating things that were the opposite of the truth. The writing style is the same as the managing director (who is a legit narcissist and textbook toxic boss). There aren’t even 5 employees who worked there and definitely not 5 employees who have left without hatred of the place.

    1. Lyra Silvertongue*

      Glassdoor borderline encourages fake reviews by never ever removing ones that are obviously coming from within the current management at the company, and by requiring people to leave reviews before they will allow them to view reviews on a company. In the past five years, my partner has worked for two different companies that explicitly asked current employees to go and leave good reviews for the company on Glassdoor.

      1. ATX*

        That’s a shame. I use Glassdoor quite a bit to keep a mental note of great companies to work for in the future.

        1. Des*

          You can definitely still use it. It’s fairly easy to read between the lines if you look at the reviews as a whole. If there are several 3 star reviews with a common theme vs several 5 star reviews that pretend that doesn’t exist, it’s easy to spot what the deal is. (Of course if you are working with multiple-locations that gets harder).

      2. Qwerty*

        I truly hate when companies solicit good reviews. Almost every company I’ve been at has done that, but all it does is make the page useless. Having new hires and interns write one sentence reviews about everything being great tells me nothing. Having reviews with no cons (or cons that are just positives in disguise) does not give an accurate picture of the company. I get suspicious if I only see positive reviews.

        The one company that didn’t ask for it had a pretty accurate page – “immature coworkers, great benefits, great work/life balance because no one is really paying attention to if work is getting done”. It may not have been the best advertisement, but at least people who joined knew what they were getting into and weighed the pros/cons.

    2. penny dreadful analyzer*

      An old employer of mine has an absolute soap opera going on on its Glassdoor page, with negative reviews, positive reviews striking back at the negative reviews, then newer negative reviews accusing management of deliberately assigning people to write good reviews… it’s wild. The company in question is a content farm so most of the employees in question are writers and editors, so they’re really well-written, detailed, and persuasive reviews, too, and a bunch of them call out rhetorical tricks that other reviews are using. I haven’t worked there in nearly 7 years but I still check back in every now and again to see the latest updates (and if they’re still restructuring every 18 months, which somehow mysteriously never fixes the morale or high turnover problems).

      1. Elbe*

        Sounds entertaining! I wish that there was a list of companies on Glassdoor that would make for an entertaining read.

        That kind of back-and-forth in the reviews section tells its own tale. Even if people weren’t 100% swayed by either the positive or negative reviews, it would be crystal clear that the workplace is high-drama.

        1. The New Wanderer*

          Glassdoor needs an equivalent to the collection of funny Amazon reviews, definitely!

          They also need the equivalent to Amazon’s disclosure policy on reviews: “I received this product for free in exchange for my honest review” –> “I was requested by management to post this review”

      2. tamarack and fireweed*

        “Well, two things are clear: a) the company attracts smart and capable writers and b) it looks deeply steeped in drama.”

    3. CommanderBanana*

      Hah, that happened at my old job. We were having a really hard time finding applicants and turns out our HR director had never heard of Glassdoor (that’s a whole other story) and realized that we had YEARS of negative, consistent reviews. Amazingly a bunch of good reviews popped up written by the management that had driven away so many people.

      1. ATX*

        Seems like it would be better to make internal changes, then reply to those reviews to state how x and y changes have been made.

    4. Ann O'Nemity*

      Plus the growing number of third-party companies that you can pay to raise your company’s scores. They will attempt to dispute the negative reviews for not following Glassdoor’s terms of use. Then they’ll flood the site with fake positive reviews.

      1. ATX*

        I’ve never heard of this, but I’m not surprised. Crazy how they’d rather pay for a company to do that than just be a decent and respectful employer.

    5. Anononon*

      When I left my toxic old job, my prior boss left a fake glowing glassdoor review pretending to be me (there were also about only 5 employees who worked there, so it was fairly obvious). The other day, because I randomly google him from time to time to see if he’s been sued yet or not, I found his Yelp page, and the two reviews on it were embarrassingly fake. Like, they were the most blatant advertisements I’ve read, like in old sitcoms where the characters would turn to the camera at one point for a mini ad for laundry detergent.

  6. Vox Experientia*

    you want her to just document when someone is driving their kids around drunk? seriously? how are you going to feel when that driver crashes their car and kills their kid (or worse, someone else’s kid)? are you going to be proud of how you documented it? actually if you’re not going to act on it, you’d be smart to avoid ANY documentation of it because you may be liable if you knew the situation was occurring and did nothing to avoid it (and your company absolutely would be).

    1. NerdyKris*

      She would not be liable for anything. This already came up in the original thread, people kept saying that when it’s not true, and it leads to misinformation about how the law works.

    2. Chantel*

      >you may be liable if you knew the situation was occurring and did nothing to avoid it

      How so? How does that work?

  7. Elbe*

    “My friend has witnessed both of them… remarking that they are on their way to pick up their kids while under the influence.”

    Whaaaat!?!? The time for politeness has passed. The LW’s friend should be doing everything within her power to stop this from happening. Someone who is drunk enough to slur their speech shouldn’t be driving anywhere, let alone with kids in the car. I hope that whoever the kids are with (a relative? daycare?) prevented them from getting in the car with this person.

    Having these coworkers lose a job is not the worst outcome here, anymore. This is literally life and death.

    If the company doesn’t fire these people, could the company require them to get help as a condition of keeping their jobs? Is there some way (outside of the legal system) that they could be required to get counseling?

    1. NerdyKris*

      I’d imagine if they’re taking 4-5 hour lunches and talking to clients while drunk, they’re completely past the point of coaching. Even taking drinking out of the scenario, they’re not working for more than half the day and hiding it.

      1. Elbe*

        It very well could not make sense for the company to continue to employ these people. That would be a fair decision to come to.

        But if the company was inclined to use the leverage it has to get these people into counseling, it would be a massive benefit to the community. If the existing employee was previously a good, valued employee the company may be more willing to try to help them, even if they are not obligated to.

        Because the downside is that once they’re let go, they have more time to drink and more time to drive. And there are fewer people aware of their comings and goings who are able to flag issues, like they are driving drunk with their kids in the car. The company no longer has a problem, but the community still does. If the company is at all willing to try to help them, they should be encouraged to.

    2. Indigo a la mode*

      According to the EAP interview from earlier today, that’s a thing! I don’t know the ins and outs, but she did mention that the only time an EAP would contact your employer is if you getting resources like substance abuse treatment is a stipulation of keeping your job.

    3. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      If the company doesn’t fire these people, could the company require them to get help as a condition of keeping their jobs?

      This is a genuine thing here in the UK, and I presume elsewhere. A previous company I worked at had a substance abuse / addiction policy in which instead of being fired for “gross misconduct” being drunk at work or similar, if the person admitted their addiction problems HR/management could mandate some kind of treatment / help.

      (I thought this was a good policy, but was less confident about the part where if having “successfully” been treated the person later had a relapse of some sort the company would then be more inclined to treat it as a disciplinary/conduct matter and potentially fire you. With the ‘addiction as illness’ model I felt like that was quite close to firing someone for the first flare-up of any other condition.)

    4. I take tea*

      I’m going to think that they are not driving, but walking or maybe using public transport, because I really don’t want to think that adult people would drive drunk, especially with kids in the car. (I do know this is wishful thinking, but it’s at least possible.)

      1. Sue*

        I know someone who was arrested for DUI when they had an accident while picking their child up from school.

      2. RagingADHD*

        Hey, my step-grandad used to get likkered up, put my preschool-age aunts in the car for a “fun ride”, and go race trains.

        Fortunately, they were not in the car when he caught one.

  8. EmKay*

    If you witness someone drunk, slurring their speech, getting behind the wheel to go pick up their KIDS, you are an accessory to a crime. And should be arrested and prosecuted.

    1. NerdyKris*

      No, you are not. And no, people shouldn’t be arrested and prosecuted for not policing strangers.

      1. Amy the Rev*

        Agreed….Unless you’re a mandated reporter. I don’t think LW is, based on their letter, but in general it’s good to remember that some industries/jobs mean that you can indeed be prosecuted for not reporting suspected abuse/neglect, and in some states, driving your children while intoxicated counts as neglect/endangerment. It isn’t against the law to be a bystander, but it’s definitely ethically….an issue.

      2. Observer*

        Legally, you are correct.

        That does not change the fact that this is not about randomly “policing strangers”. This is about watching someone put others in danger – repeatedly! Morally, someone who decides to just wait an see is an accessory.

        1. Observer*

          Sorry, I left something out.

          This about watching someone you actually have a relationship with placing others in danger when you have an option open to you.

        2. tamarack and fireweed*

          There’s surely a point at which a bridge is crossed into the territory of abetting, however, that’s what the OP is doing this very moment by writing to AAM: figuring out where they are on this path and what the appropriate course of action is.

    2. Wants Green Things*

      That is not even remotely how that works. Learn you the law before you go shlwing your ignorance.

  9. Chris*

    I left a job with a very long notice period (academia). I figured as long as they were still paying me I owed them any knowledge and insight I could offer, even regarding things that wouldn’t end up happening until after I was gone. If they wanted to discount it because of my pending departure, they were free to do so, but I wasn’t going to let that affect how I acted.

  10. Amy the Rev*

    Re: drunk co-workers picking up their kids: in my state/industry (and in many others), if I knew about this (or even suspected it) I’d be legally mandated to report it. Come to think of it, if LW were to call the daycare/school about it, the employees there would likely be mandated reporters as well. That is reason enough to go ahead and call the police/CPS, I think, though even if there weren’t kids involved, ‘keeping an impaired driver off the roads’ is a pretty good reason.

    1. Clorinda*

      Hmmm . . ..
      In that case, maybe OP’s friend can contact the school/daycare and let the mandated reporters take over? They shouldn’t be putting kids in the car with an intoxicated driver but the car line is all about getting people moved along as efficiently as possible, so the teachers monitoring the car line probably aren’t close enough to the driver to notice the smell of alcohol. But if they were alerted to it, wouldn’t they have to do something? It’s maybe a weaselly way around the social problem, but speaking as a teacher myself, I would want to know if there was some life-threatening situation I needed to watch for.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        I think this comes down to is it a school pick up line – where it’s just the kids hopping in the car (may be impossible to know what is going on with the parent) and a daycare where the parent has to come in and interact a bit with the teacher and impairments can be caught.

        1. ChachiGambino*

          Especially in the time of Covid. These parents may be taking advantage of or at least “benefiting from” the culture of social distancing.

    2. Sylvan*

      Huh. Now that I think of that angle, I’d be mandated to report it, too. (All adults are mandated reporters in my state. Check out your local mandated reporting laws, folks.)

  11. Mrs. Hawiggins*

    Action needs to be taken immediately. No one wants this absolute disaster in the making, and no one wants to be the one who knew about it but wanted to wait a couple months to see if it ever improved. Addiction is a terrible thing, but they should no longer have a job at OP’s place, in my opinion. Being fired is a way better rock bottom than a devastating catastrophe needing to call attention to an obvious problem.

  12. Yorick*

    This depends on the area. In my state, it’s DWI (driving while intoxicated). Either way, people know what you mean when you say DUI, so it’s silly to nitpick

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        My coworkers use OWI for a soft error in processing. Throws me for a loop every time I get a task to fix a job…

      2. KaciHall*

        I saw OMVUI today as a charge. Took me a second to parse it because it was just weird compared to the others. I forget what jurisdiction that was in, though.

  13. HotSauce*

    I hate team building events, especially week long retreat type events. I spend enough time with my coworkers, I don’t need to have a sleepover with them! I can not imagine having to go to one when I know I’m out the door in a short time, this might be one of those times in life where you have to pretend to have a severe injury/illness to get out of it.

  14. Former Employee*

    Call anyone and everyone from the police to the daycare/school to the spouses. I didn’t see anyone else mention that last one but, if you have access to contact information for the spouses, this is one of the very few times when it would be appropriate to call a spouse.

    After that, contact the manager and let them know what’s going on and the steps you’ve already taken to try and remedy the situation.

    While I normally am hesitant to get the police involved given how things can go very wrong, in this case I can’t think of anything more wrong than driving drunk and doing so with kids in the car.

  15. NotSoAnon*

    I honestly just can’t even imagine this happening and not doing anything at that moment. Just being intoxicated at work and/or driving a vehicle intoxicated is enough for me, not even bringing the picking up kids factor. If this happened to me and the employee was not one of my direct reports, I would immediately go to HR and their manager to notify them of what is happening and ask how they would want me to document/ask what next steps they would need from me. The letter writer states the manager is remote/not on site, but I imagine that HR would then notify the proper authorities and immediately terminate both employees.

  16. Bookworm*

    Re: quitting–A shorter notice (meaning, not two weeks) probably makes sense. Just don’t do what a co-worker of mine did and simply disappear. In retrospect the job wasn’t a good fit for him I think but he just didn’t come to work and my manager had to resort to calling his emergency contacts just to be sure if he was okay. He was, claimed he had a better business opportunity due to a death in the family. He dropped off his badge and didn’t want to say goodbye to any of us (he and I had only been there for a few weeks at most by that point).

    My manager wasn’t surprised (I guess this was common for the position) and we lucked out by finding someone else.

    Hope it works out for you!

  17. nep*

    in hopes that she will break through to them
    Clearly this is not going to happen; they sound way past anything like this having any influence whatsoever.
    Spot on advice. Inform boss. Yesterday.

  18. TiredMama*

    You had me at drunk and driving to school to pick up their kids. I would call the police if you are sure. You could save a child’s life.

  19. I am Jack's Something-or-Other*

    Good call on the tutoring. My colleague once agreed to tutor our boss in math. She had been a grade school math teacher in her previous profession and still tutored on the side. We were both new to the job and didn’t know him well. He was preparing for the GRE exam, I think. After a couple of lessons, he asked her how much she would charge to just take the exam on his behalf. She ended the tutoring and reported the incident to higher ups because of what it exposed about his ethics.

  20. Patty*

    Agree with calling the police when you know they are about to drive drunk. I’ve done this at office picnics where the beer was flowing freely more than once. BTW, this is an office of law enforcement personnel. It was generally the same three or four people involved. It cost jobs, but it potentially saved a lot of lives.

  21. PspspspspspsKitty*

    For the drunk driver employee:
    She needs to immediately talk to HR. Most companies would send someone home and wouldn’t bring them back until their addiction is handled. My company also has a policy that if we let a person we know is under the influence to drive away, we have to call the police because it can come back to the company if something bad were to happen. Most companies have similar policies.

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