For those seeking to become police officers, correctional officers, or firefighters, a clean driving record is imperative. This also holds true for truck drivers, those who drive CDL vehicles, and certain other government and private sector employees.
The Massachusetts Civil Service Commission has upheld employers’ decisions not to hire a candidate who scores well on a civil service examination based on the candidate’s Massachusetts driver history. The Commission has ruled that a poor driving record is reasonable justification for a bypass of a candidate. See McGrath v. Lowell, 22 MCSR 560 (2009); Torres v. Lowell, 22 MCSR 558 (2009); Campbell v. Boston Fire Dep’t, 22 MCSR 489 (2009); Jones v. Boston Police Dep’t, 22 MCSR (2008).
Records which contain chemical test refusals, DUI convictions, drunk driving arrests, license suspensions, moving violations, operating to endanger charges, operating after suspension incidents, driving on a revoked Mass. license, 4 year habitual traffic offender revocations have all been used against candidates for employment in police, fire, and corrections jobs.
For example, in one case, Franklin v. City of Leominster, the Mass. Division of Administrative Law Appeals ruled as follows:
I agree that Mr. Franklin’s driving record is exceedingly poor, verging on dangerous. Mr. Franklin’s license has been suspended three times since he first received it in 1998, most recently in 2009 for refusing a chemical test after being stopped by police. Mr. Franklin pled guilty to charges of driving under the influence in 2004. Mr. Franklin has also been issued citations for multiple car accidents and moving violations. In 2007, Mr. Franklin drove his car over a curb while texting, causing property damage to a tree and signs, and striking objects with such force that his car’s airbag deployed and his tires were shredded. On that occasion, Mr. Franklin was issued citations for leaving the scene of an accident, property damage, failure to stay in marked lanes and reckless operation of a motor vehicle. In 2006, Mr. Franklin was found responsible for failure to keep right. Prior to his driving under the influence conviction in 2004, Mr. Franklin had accumulated surchargeable violations that included three failures to stop, two speeding violations, two failures to stay in the right lane, three additional car accidents, and two instances in which he failed to produce his license and registration.
Mayor Mazzarella testified that driving is “extremely important” in performing duties as a Leominster firefighter, particularly in the first five years. A valid Massachusetts driver’s license is a prerequisite to working as a firefighter in Leominster. Much of the driving done by firefighters on duty is done under stressful conditions. Because of the relatively small size of the Leominster department, every firefighter must be able to operate all of the department’s vehicles, regardless of whether such operation is part of the employee’s ordinary duties, at any moment. The city must consider the physical dangers, logistical problems and potential legal liabilities that might arise from employing an applicant with a poor driving history. A firefighter with a pattern of past license suspensions would be unable to perform his duties, should his license again be suspended or revoked.
Mayor Mazzarella was reasonably justified in bypassing Mr. Franklin because of his poor driving record. Mr. Franklin’s three license suspensions, chemical test refusal, DUI, multiple accidents and numerous moving violations make it reasonable to believe that Mr. Franklin was at high risk for causing injury to others or their property. Additionally, Mr. Franklin’s three past license suspensions indicate that his license may be suspended or revoked in the future, which would stop Mr. Franklin from discharging all of his duties.
This case illustrates the importance of maintaining a clean driving record. A lawyer who specializes in Massachusetts Registry Appeals such as Brian Simoneau, Jeanne Koehr, or Paul Watkins can help you do that.