Some Boss Drivers Have Blemished Driving Records
University denied newspaper access to drivers' names.
After an open record’s roadblock, a Media Milwaukee investigation found that at least eight of 60 BOSS employees employed as of last spring had blemished driving records and found that new drivers can be hired even if they have previously revoked licenses and drunk driving histories, as long as they are more than a year old.
After learning of this, some students want to see stricter standards for BOSS drivers because the rules allow people with even somewhat recent OWI histories to drive for BOSS. According to the University Safety and Assurances website, the minimum state standards to operate a state owned vehicle, such as a BOSS van, are that you must have a valid driver’s license, have at least two years driving experience, and that you must be 18 years of age or older.
BOSS, or Be On the Safe Side, is a transportation service for UWM students funded through student segregated fees controlled by the Student Association.The service escorts students anywhere within a few miles of the UWM area from 6 p.m. to 4 a.m.
One must be a UWM student to drive for BOSS.An open records request to UWM for the names of BOSS drivers was denied by Amy Watson of the University Relations and Communications department on the grounds that releasing that information would violate the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
“FERPA restricts the university from releasing the B.O.S.S. drivers’ first and last names,” said Watson in her response to Media Milwaukee.“Student names are considered directory information when listed in an online or printed campus directory, but their names are not directory information when associated with the student’s activities, including employment.”
Despite this obstacle, Media Milwaukee obtained the names through other means.
Through a simple search on CCAP, MM found that eight BOSS drivers had speeding tickets prior to being hired for BOSS; one student’s record showed that he’d been speeding so fast that he was charged with petty misdemeanor just last year.Another student was ticketed for driving 24 mph over the limit.FPM also found at least two former BOSS drivers with speeding records.UWM Sophomore, Dan Biller, has seen some questionable driving from BOSS drivers.“It wouldn't really surprise me at all if some of the drivers had records, especially from driving with them and seeing how drive around campus,” said Biller.“There have been times when I’ve been walking around at night or riding a bike where their driving scares me.”
Gabrielle Wilmot, also a sophomore, isn’t fazed by the fact. “A speeding ticket here and there is minor,” said Wilmot.It doesn’t make BOSS unsafe.It’s better to have a BOSS driver with a few speeding tickets driving you than to drive home drunk yourself. But when hiring BOSS drivers, I feel it is important to look at their records.”
And their records are looked at.Each BOSS applicant has their history checked by UWM’s Office of Risk Management and has a background check done by the Milwaukee Police Department. The applicants agree to this when signing their BOSS application.
The application resembles any other with inquiries for names, addresses, school information, references, and employment history.The difference is that it asks for the applicant’s drivers license number, the state he/she is licensed in, and if they have received any motor vehicle moving citations.
Once the applicant has been evaluated, they’re either approved or denied based on their history.
State standards for “safe drivers”
Operations Assistant for BOSS, Anthony Gomez, never learns of the BOSS applicants’ histories.
“I get a letter of approval or denial from Risk Management.I don’t know why [applicants] are denied or approved,” said Gomez.“However, I do have faith in Risk Management’s ability to weed people out who aren’t safe drivers.”
But what is a “safe driver”?Risk Management’s website, their definition of a safe driver is someone:
·With no more than two moving traffic violations or "at fault" accidents within a two year period
·Who hasn’t received a DUI or OWI within the last 12 months
·Whose license has been reinstated at least one year after revocation
These standards bother UWM student, Kaileigh Reeves.
“It’s one thing to get a speeding ticket or something small, but I do not agree with someone having an OWI, DUI, or revoked license, even if it wasn’t within 12 months,” said Reeves. “In reality, 12 months is not a long period of time and not long enough, in my opinion, for someone to really learn from what they did.”
“I would like to see stricter restrictions on DUIs and OWIs just because it is a college campus and, in my opinion, having one at all should make the job not attainable,” says Biller. “Other than that, I think the standards are reasonable and would ensure fairly safe drivers.”
According to Gomez, if someone was faulted for an accident-or was pulled over while on the job for BOSS, the issue would be addressed.
“The first time, I would sit down with them and talk about it, any incidents beyond that would be taken more seriously,” explained Gomez.“We have accidents quite a bit.We’re open 10 hours a day, seven days a week, and the East side is so congested that it is bound to happen.”
The drivers are also audited, says Gomez, and their driving is checked periodically by Risk Management.
Former BOSS driver, Dustin Browne, learned this the hard way. After taking an illegal right turn at a red light, he was pulled over and ticketed.
“I paid the ticket and kept working for several months after, but apparently, my ticket wasn’t filed properly,” said Browne.“Then one day, Risk Management saw something about my ticket, called to inquire, and they ended up revoking my driver authorization. I couldn’t work there any longer.”
BOSS drivers records are checked periodically and they are authorized for a maximum of one year. Once the year is up, they must submit a new request for authorization.