The Atlanta DUI News Blog

City Water Workers Accused of Drinking on the Job

An Atlanta city employee has been accused of drinking on the job while driving a truck belonging to the city, Fox News reports.

A whistleblower has come forward and alleged that several employees at the Atlanta water department drink and smoke pot while on the job. Gary Blackwell, one of the accused employees, is currently being terminated from his position with the city.

The whistleblower allegedly witnessed Blackwell stop for a beer while on the clock. Blackwell reportedly operated heavy machinery and drove a city truck while drinking the beer.

“He stopped on a hot day to get himself some beer. And then, drank that beer during the course of his activities while operating this heavy machinery - which is extremely disturbing and frightening because it puts the public at risk,” Atlanta City Councilman Michael Bond said.

Authorities haven’t said whether Blackwell will face DUI charges for the incident. Under Georgia’s DUI law, it’s illegal for anyone to drive with a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher. A first DUI conviction is punishable by a maximum fine of $1,000, 10 days to 12 months in prison, at least 40 hours of community service, and completion of an alcohol or drug use risk reduction program.

According to the whistleblower, drinking on the job is a widespread problem in the city’s water department. He alleges that the department’s managers are aware of the problem, Fox News reports.

Gina Pagnotta-Murphy, the president of the PACE Union, attributes the on-the-job drinking to stress. “Our union never condones wrong … but what’s going on with the pension, economy, family, issues, no raises - these things have to have an outlet,” Pagnotta-Murphy said.

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