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We have a "work" softball team (it is made up of all people who I work with but the company doesn't sponsor it although we do have the same team name as our company name). I got a ride from one of my coworkers so I could have a few beers at the game. I made a poor choice because the coworker had been drinking a bit before he picked me up and had a few more beers through the game. On the way home, he got pulled over and blew over the legal limit (0.08 BAC). I was also breathalyzed, but I only blew a 0.06. I was allowed to call for a ride and leave, but the car was towed and my coworker was taken to jail for DUI ("Driving Under the Influence").

Moving past the terrible decision I made in allowing myself to ride with an intoxicated person (I was aware there was booze involved, trusted that that amount was safe), what are my obligations to my company here? Do I have to report this to my bosses? The coworker and I share department leads. I didn't get in any legal trouble here so it feels like I should be in the clear. If I don't tell my bosses am I opening myself up to repercussions?

Posting anonymously for obvious reasons.

UPDATE: My coworker told my company, and said I was with him. Now I'm supposed to meet with HR tomorrow morning.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Monica Cellio May 26 '17 at 16:02
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    Please tell us what happened. I'm sure that someday someone else will find himself in a similar situation and will find this question. You are the best person to tell him what he might expect. – A. I. Breveleri May 27 '17 at 13:31
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    Why were you breathalyzed? You weren't driving, right? – Mels May 29 '17 at 11:28
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    Can you give further update? What was the intent of the HR meeting? Was any feedback given to you? – Myles May 29 '17 at 14:40
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    @Mels To check if he can take over as the driver? Then they wouldnt have to tow the car.There are plenty reasons todo so. – Raoul Mensink Jun 1 '17 at 8:50
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As far as I can tell, this wasn't work-related and doesn't impact work in any way, so there will not be any repercussions to either you or your coworker. However, an eagerness to disclose this on your own (which is different than being asked about it and lying) will make your coworker(s) and management view you negatively.

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    Do nothing is the answer. – Mister Positive May 25 '17 at 13:23
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    +1 - Best advice I was ever given: "Never miss a good opportunity to shut up." – Wesley Long May 25 '17 at 15:24
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    @tuskiomi Of course it is not off-topic, for the question: "What should I do if me and my coworker have some incident/an accident/etc outside of work" the answer is "Do nothing". It is still a valid question, and a valid answer – fernando.reyes May 25 '17 at 16:26
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    @tuskiomi This instance involves a "work" league that may not be sponsored or anything, but shares a name with the company. It's not completely unrelated to the workplace. – David Starkey May 25 '17 at 16:56
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    @AnoE the original answer was before the newer update from OP. Since they re aware and they called him in already theres no point in doing anything related to this matter before then imo, so I just answered how I would go about the matter during the actual HR meeting about this. – Leon May 26 '17 at 11:10
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what are my obligations to my company here? Do I have to report this to my bosses?

There is no obligation to your company here. The DUI arrest happened during off hours (ie: not while you were being paid to do your job) and the baseball game was not a company-sponsored event. This has nothing to do with your company.

If your co-worker is not present tomorrow morning, you might consider telling your mutual supervisor what happened. I would personally wait until said supervisor asked where Bob was today, and then I would take him aside to tell him discreetly. However, if Bob managed to show up for work tomorrow, I wouldn't say anything to anyone.

If I don't tell my bosses am I opening myself up to repercussions?

You aren't legally or ethically obliged to tell your bosses about things that happen outside work hours. You might be opening yourself up to some repercussions if you DO tell your bosses (in the form of disappointed looks, public shaming or - worst-case - being treated as somehow "less responsible" in work-related matters.) The best thing you can do is remain silent as much as possible.

You made a mistake, you learned your lesson. Move on. Let Bob deal with Bob's problems, if any, that might arise because of this incident.

  • I would disagree about the obligation if someone had gotten hurt or there was an accident because being a "work" softball team someone could try to pin some liability on them, but since there's not it's a non-issue. – Chris E May 25 '17 at 15:00
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    "If your co-worker is not present tomorrow morning, you might consider telling your mutual supervisor what happened." I'd refrain from doing that (unless asked directly if I knew where he was) for all the reasons you wouldn't mention it about yourself. Only if this became a persistent pattern would I say something. – AllTheKingsHorses May 25 '17 at 18:24
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    I'd also suggest that the OP didn't even make a mistake - it's the coworker who bears the full responsibility for this poor decision. – fluffy May 26 '17 at 8:03
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    @fluffy I agree that the OP is being a little bit harsh on himself; but I typically write my answers following the tone set by the OP. Even if he wasn't drinking and driving himself, if we could all be so vigilant as to stop a friend who has clearly had one too many from getting behind the wheel, the world would be a much safer place. – Steve-O May 26 '17 at 13:24
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    Not company sponsored, but they do use the company name. Not totally irrelevant. – Joe May 26 '17 at 14:54
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While I generally agree with the other answers that are saying you should keep quite and not volunteer anything, I will offer one counter point.

If your company has a published code of conduct, it may impose some responsibility on you in this scenario. While you were not on company time, or at a company sponsored event, you are their employees, and wearing their name. As such, your actions reflect on the company as a whole. While you personally did not do anything inappropriate, your coworker did, and the code of conduct at many companies includes a clause about reporting activity by others which may be damaging to the company.

Aside from that, you need to be extremely careful in your discussion with HR to not volunteer any information, and only answer questions with objective facts that you witnessed first hand. Don't say "<Other Guy> was drinking before he picked me up", unless you witnessed him consuming the drink. If you speak to things that you did not witness, or add conjecture or supposition to your remarks about things you did witness, you expose yourself to liability with respect to both the company and the other employee.

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    Since OtherPerson reported it and the asker is now stuck talking to HR, the last paragraph is the way to go. Practice saying, "I didn't witness ____.", "I don't know.", and "I don't feel comfortable speculating about that." if they try to ask opinion questions (which hopefully they do not). – user3067860 May 25 '17 at 21:01
  • @user3067860 Yep, the choice of whether or not to talk to HR has been removed in this particular instance, and the last section is the only part that is immediately relevant to the OP. However, the first section is still something to consider about the scenario in general and may be useful for the OP or others in the future. – Rozwel May 25 '17 at 21:21
  • This is a good point. Review the company code of conduct, employee handbook, and contract, to make sure there is no surprise in any of them. – Stephan Branczyk May 26 '17 at 6:11
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    Your actions reflect on the company as a whole. First the very idea that e.g. a family is "tainted" if one member consciously decides to do sth bad is problematic: Should e.g. a mother be judged because one of their many children sold drugs? Second the projected image of the transgression becomes finally more important than the transgression itself causing the paradoxical effect that bad behavior is not reported anymore. Third the company do not own you and they have no business (from very specific exemptions for public professionals) to demand a specific behavior outside working hours. – Thorsten S. May 26 '17 at 19:47
  • While you were not on company time, or at a company sponsored event, you are their employees, and wearing their name. As such, your actions reflect on the company as a whole. That's ludicrous. I don't go around wearing a company flag in my free time, so wether I'm a saint or a devil is none of their business. If my company even tried reprimanding me for something I did in my own free time I'd tell them to go f themselves and leave. – Demonblack May 29 '17 at 8:53
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To answer more specific on your update:

You have not done anything wrong!

Keep this in mind. You even asked him for a ride in order to be able to drink and not drive. You did everything fine to prevent something like this happening.

The only thing is that you could have known he had too much. Just state that you did not overwatched him and did not now whether he was drinking alcohol. I think this is the only thing someone could accuse you with. And it's quite a weak accusation.

Probably HR actually even wants to know more about him then about you. What happened exactly, why, how much did the police measure etc.

  • Agreed, however, the OP never stated that HR had questioned him at all. – kleineg May 25 '17 at 21:32
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    ...Until the last edit, which says specifically HR wants to talk to him. – kleineg May 25 '17 at 21:33
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You do not have to do/report anything as you were not charged with anything. Do nothing, say nothing! Things can only go downhill for you by speaking.

Your coworker may have a different situation however. A convicted DUI in my state is a felony. He/She should check the laws in your state. If it is, your coworker would be required to legally report this on all future job forms that ask "have you ever been convicted of a felony?".

I find it curious/interesting that the officer had you take a breathalyzer, as the passenger. Even if you were over 0.8, I do not think that is a crime (IANAL) so that is suspicious.

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    @nardnob I missed that part of OPs question then. That is illegal, but I didn't think that happened here. – Tommy May 25 '17 at 17:14
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    @sober_for_the_forseeable_futur Would it be public intoxication if you were riding in a private car? I don't see how that would be considered being in public. – kleineg May 25 '17 at 18:37
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    @sober_for_the_forseeable_futur I think a solid argument might look something like this: Private Intoxication is legal. Bars are legal. If I'm intoxicated at a bar, and the bar closes, I'm allowed to get home? Or is it illegal for the bar to kick me out into the public? If public intoxication is illegal, taking a bus is possibly illegal. The only legal course of action is a non-public vehicle. If a bar doesn't let me drive home, they call a cab, that's legal, but a friend who takes me home is more private than a cab. I'm also "sober for the forseeable future", but this is totally defendable. – McKay May 25 '17 at 18:54
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    @McKay again, sounds pretty logical. But the situation here isn't proving my innocence, rather, avoiding going to jail on the night. Most police I've dealt with wouldn't be interested in whether or not i'm actually breaking a law vs. them perceiving that I broke a law, that's for a judge/jury to decide. A defensive/argumentative approach would have potentially put me into more danger (I'm a minority) – sober_for_the_forseeable_futur May 25 '17 at 19:17
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    @Tommy, odds are the breathalyzer test was to see if there was a sufficiently-sober passenger who could drive the car home, rather than having to go through the hassle of impounding it. – Mark May 25 '17 at 21:42
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First of all, you don't know what HR wants to talk about. You only know the facts that happened.

It's possible that your co-worker has a drinking problem that they already know about, and this isn't the first time this has happened. Maybe he told them because he needs their help finding alternative transportation options. Maybe they are concerned about a culture of alcohol consumption in general among the employees.

It's not true that what you do outside of work has no impact on your work. Think of all the stories you hear about people getting caught making racist statements on Twitter or Facebook, then getting fired when their boss finds out. Your softball league is "is made up of all people who I work with but the company doesn't sponsor it although we do have the same team name as our company name". Sounds like what happens at softball is the company's business; you're using their name and their employees.

That being said, you weren't driving. But maybe the two of you should have called a cab or waited to sober up before heading home. It doesn't sound like a fireable offense, but if I were HR I'd want to learn more too. Especially from team leaders who have influence on junior members of the company. I think if you go in with a defensive attitude, you won't be doing yourself any favors.

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    Just curious, why do you come with an accusative tone if you think I shouldn't have a defensive attitude? Not trying to be offensive – sober_for_the_forseeable_futur May 25 '17 at 21:25
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    This doesn’t sound accusative to me. – Bradd Szonye May 25 '17 at 23:09
  • I think you're being defensive. :) But, seriously, you're here asking the questions and looking for advice. Many people are telling you that HR is not your friend, don't tell them anything, don't say anything. These are all defensive strategies, but really you don't know what they are going to talk about. Also, you fully admit that you made a "terrible decision" and "made a poor choice". It's not an accusation on my part to quote you with your own statements. Regardless of what HR says, it might be a good idea to think about how to avoid this situation should it occur again in the future. – user70848 May 26 '17 at 2:15
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    "You are supposed to meet HR". Don't be afraid. HR is surely concerned about the status of your coworker and wants to ask a few questions to you, probably to confirm the situation or, as @user70848 suggested, to understand if your coworker has drinking problems. You have a "scheduled" meeting only because they are very busy. I think this will be an informal chat with HR, where the first question will be "How is Bob?". Nothing to worry about – usr-local-ΕΨΗΕΛΩΝ May 26 '17 at 8:42
  • _Think of all the stories you hear about people getting caught making racist statements on Twitter or Facebook, then getting fired when their boss finds out. _ Which is also ludicrous. It might be understandable if it's a public relations manager or someone else who's in the public eye, but otherwise it's completely unjustified. – Demonblack May 29 '17 at 9:07
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As far as the answer to why she was given a sobriety test: The officer needed to determine if she was intoxicated past the legal limit. If she failed a field sobriety test or blew above the legal blood-alcohol limit, most arresting officers will ask you to call a sober friend or taxi company to drive you home from the scene of the accident. If you can't get in touch with a suitable driver, you may be arrested for public intoxication and forced to spend a night in jail. While these charges are often dropped or reduced in court, you'll still be thoroughly inconvenienced.

Law Dictionary: What Happens to a Passenger in a DUI Arrest?

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It depends on their position, and yours.

Your coworker committed a serious crime, and showed themselves to be a person of minimal moral fiber. Does your coworker ever need to drive for work? Are you in a sector where you need to handle money, personal/medical information, or high-value IP? If so, this is important information your company could use in evaluating this employee's suitability for future tasks or the job in general. You have a responsibility to them and to society at large to make sure they can handle it responsibly.

If you work as a garbage man, there's probably not much cause for worry.

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    Clarifying questions should be asked as comments, not posted as answers. If you lack the rep to post a comment, spend some time adding value in other ways until your rep is high enough; don't just post a clarifying question as an answer. – Eric Lippert May 25 '17 at 21:59
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    If he drives a garbage truck, DUI is far more relevant than handling money or IP. "Minimal moral fiber" seems a bit strong. "unaware and reckless" would be more accurate. You must have a real bad view of alcohol to associate DUI with dishonesty. – Level River St May 25 '17 at 23:42
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    I think the choice to drive drunk is being viewed badly here, not alcohol itself. I would certainly expect other poor choices from someone who made that particular one. The questions are also ones OP should be asking himself, not requests for clarification. – Matthew Read May 26 '17 at 18:16
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    Isn't "a serious crime" a little bit exaggerated? – glglgl May 26 '17 at 21:13
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    A DUI is a far bigger worry if you work at a job where trying to work while intoxicated could easily kill you or the people around you (say, driving a 5 ton truck and operating a giant trash compactor) than if you sit in an office and do anything involving intellectual property. – Zach Lipton May 27 '17 at 3:20

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