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New policy means county employees can be randomly screened for drugs and alcohol

By Laura Halm
Published On: Mar 01 2013 04:57:19 PM CST
Updated On: Mar 01 2013 06:39:06 PM CST

It's taken 15 years, but effective March 1 people working for Washington County, Virginia can be randomly tested for drugs and alcohol.

WASHINGTON COUNTY, Va. -

It's taken 15 years, but effective March 1 people working for Washington County, Virginia can be randomly tested for drugs and alcohol.

We checked with officials and learned privacy is still a top concern.

A 12-year career dedicated to Washington County, Virginia, legal assistant Vicky Henderson is seeing a change to keep her workplace drug and alcohol free and she says it's good news. "It's probably a good thing that we're held to the same standards that other employees are held to in other companies."

Washington County, Virginia employees are now subject to pre-employment, random, reasonable-suspicion drug testing. We've learned it affects about 86 county employees; that includes the administrative division as well as those with commercial driver's licenses.

Director of human resources Kathy Johnson says this policy was last updated in 1998.

The difference is the old policy did not require random drug testing. But now employees will be screened for illegal drugs, alcohol, and prescription medication. "If [employees] tested positive and they're not on a prescription medication and haven't let us know prior to the test, then they take the chance of losing their employment," added Johnson.

At the sheriff's office, there's been a policy for years: all new hires are drug tested and 5 percent of their total employees are randomly tested each year.

The board of supervisors voted and passed this new policy. Board member Joseph Straten says it was simply time for a change. "It's a way to protect our county and also protect our employees," he said.

We've also learned elected officials in Washington County, Virginia are not required to be randomly tested for drugs and alcohol.