State Vehicle Use Policy
|Senior Director Of Operations
|Director of Safety and Security
|Safety and Security
|First draft March 2021, Second draft October 2022
|Motor Vehicle, State Vehicle Usage, Motor Vehicle Record Standard, Rental Car, Personal Vehicle, Travel, LENS
Previous to May of 2022 this policy only addressed the use of university owned vehicles. In May of 2022 this policy was expanded to include information regarding use of rental vehicles and personal vehicles for university business; the title was changed to reflect the broader scope of the policy.
The purpose of this policy is to set forth the requirements applicable to all drivers of SUNY Empire State University owned, leased, and rented vehicles. This policy also provides important information for employees who are using their personal vehicles for university business. This policy is intended to ensure the safety of drivers, passengers and the public as well as minimize losses, damages and claims against the University.
Official University Business: State vehicles may only be used in the conduct of official state business and their use for any personal business is strictly forbidden, except under very limited circumstances where personal use, such as commuting, has been approved by the President and subsequently submitted and expressly authorized by the Vice President of Administration (VPAF), where the personal use is authorized, or is incidental to university business.
Personal Use of Vehicle: The personal business would be the regular use of a state vehicle for non-regular campus use such as commuting, shopping, entertainment, non-essential use, use for family, friends and non-authorized campus use.
Incidental to university business: Additional use of a university vehicle that is directly related to official business. Examples may be driving to a restaurant while on an overnight stay or stopping at a store to obtain necessary sustenance.
Driving a SUNY Empire State University owned, leased, or rented vehicle is a privilege and the University reserves the right to deny, suspend, or revoke the driving privileges of any driver in the event the driver fails to meet the qualifications set forth in the policy.
Acquisitions, Disposition and Disposal of State Vehicles
Decisions to acquire vehicles shall be made by the Vice President for Administration (VPAF). It is the University’s policy to purchase alternative fuel vehicles where appropriate, in accordance with the Governor’s Executive Order 4. All acquisitions of state vehicles shall be subject to approval by the State University of New York and/or the Division of the Budget, when appropriate.
Vehicles will be acquired upon appropriate budgetary considerations and after a cost/benefit analysis has been performed to determine if purchasing a vehicle is the best alternative given the proposed use of the vehicle and the estimate of annual mileage. Such analysis shall consider alternative solutions, such as car rentals, use of Office of General Services (OGS) fleet vehicles, or reimbursement of employees for personal mileage.
Upon the decision to dispose of a vehicle, the vehicle should be traded-in or surplused through OGS in accordance with state policies.
It is the responsibility of the VPAF, or designee, to inform OGS of additions or subtractions to the University’s fleet. Inventory maintenance and fleet management forms can be found on the OGS webpage for fleet management (https://ogs.ny.gov/fleet-management)
Presidential Assignment of State Vehicles
The University shall purchase and maintain a vehicle for the exclusive and unrestricted use by the University President. The President is responsible for determining the personal use of the vehicle for proper income declaration based upon IRS guidelines. Other vehicles purchased shall be assigned to individuals or departments, as directed through the VPAF.
Maintenance of State Vehicles
Routine vehicle maintenance will be arranged through the Office of Facilities.
Vehicle registration, insurance and inspection will be the responsibility of the Office of Facilities. Users must report any vehicle maintenance concerns to the Office of Facilities.
Driver Eligibility and Authorization
Drivers must be at least 18 years of age, have a valid US driver’s license, or an International Driving Permit (IDP) issued by either the American Automobile Association or American Automobile Touring Alliances National Automobile Club.
Employees or volunteers (as defined by policy) who will operate a University owned, leased or rented motor vehicle as part of their employment, either temporarily or as a part of their regular job requirements will be enrolled in the NYS Department of Motor Vehicles License Event Notification Service (LENS) (Appendix A) at the time of appointment or upon approval of their request to drive a University vehicle. The LENS program allows the Office of Safety & Security to review the driver’s record through the NYS Department of Motor Vehicles covering the most recent three (3) year period. Additionally, LENS notifies the Office of Safety & Security when an enrolled employee receives any license activity (accidents, suspensions, convictions, expirations, etc.) Safety & Security will communicate the approval/denial/revocation of driving privileges, via email, to the requesting employee, their supervisor, and the Office of Human Resources. Verbal suspension/revocation of an employee’s driving privileges is authorized in extenuating circumstances but must be followed-up in writing within 48 hours as described above.
The University reserves the right to deny, suspend or revoke the driving privileges to operate a university owned or leased vehicle based on the initial or subsequent review of an employee’s motor vehicle record per the eligibility requirements listed below. Employees with the following violations are ineligible to operate a university owned, leased or rented vehicle for three (3) years from the date of the most recent violation:
- Leaving the scene of a personal injury or property damage auto accident.
- Reckless Driving
- Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) or Driving While Ability Impaired (DWAI) alcohol or drugs.
- Vehicular homicide or assault.
- Participating in an unlawful speed contest.
- Eluding or attempted eluding of a police officer.
- Operating a vehicle with a suspended or revoked license.
- Using a motor vehicle in the furtherance of committing a crime.
- Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle as defined in section 165 of the NYS Penal Law.
- Permitting unlicensed operator.
- Two (2) or more at fault accidents or moving violations in the preceding 12 months may result in denial or revocation of University vehicle driving privileges.
Other violations not listed above are subject to denial based on incident review.
Note: The listed violations must be convictions.
No employee is authorized to operate a university owned, leased, or rented vehicle with a “probationary”, “court restricted”, or “junior” license.
Even with enrollment in the LENS program, drivers are required to immediately report any change in license status (e.g., convictions, suspensions, revocations, etc.) to the Office of Safety & Security.
Prospective employees who require a driver’s license as part of their University employment may be offered conditional employment contingent upon the results of a Motor Vehicle Records LENS review.
All passengers must be participating in university business, sponsored activity, or event at the time they are traveling in a university owned, leased, or rented vehicle. Passengers shall be limited to other employees or students unless authorized by the responsible employee’s supervisor and the Office of Safety and Security.
Personal use of an employer provided vehicle generally includes use of the vehicle for purposes of commuting to and from an employee’s home and his or her official workstation and other trips unrelated to work.
Scenario 1: An employee who is required to stay overnight for an out-of-town meeting drives the university vehicle to a restaurant near the overnight lodging in order to have dinner. All vehicle use in this scenario is consistent with this policy because the university vehicle is used for official business and the personal use (driving to and from the restaurant) is incidental to official business.
Scenario 2: An employee has an all-day meeting in a different part of the State. Because it would not be practical to pick up or drop off the vehicle from the official work location on the day of the meeting, the employee takes a State vehicle home the evening prior to the meeting, drives to the meeting early the next morning, drives home that evening, and returns the vehicle the following morning. All vehicle use in this scenario is consistent with this policy because driving from the official work location to home and from home back to the official work location is personal use incidental to official university business. While usage described in Scenario 2 is deemed incidental to official university business, such usage must be authorized by either the Vice-President of Administration or the Senior Director of Operations.
Scenario 3: Same facts as Scenario 2, except that on the trip back to home, the employee stops to pick up a loaf of bread and a gallon of milk at a supermarket that is on the route home. All vehicle use in this example is consistent with this policy because the brief stop at the supermarket, while clearly personal, is a minor deviation from official university business and is considered incidental to official university business.
Scenario 4: Same facts as Scenario 3, except that instead of stopping briefly at a supermarket on the route home, the employee stops at an outlet mall just off the highway to shop for one hour. Even assuming that the employee stops at the outlet mall outside of their regular work hours, using the State vehicle for outlet shopping is in violation of this policy.
Unlike the stop in Scenario 3, the purpose of this detour is not to obtain necessary items of sustenance, such as bread or milk, nor is the detour brief. For these reasons, the personal use of the vehicle is clearly not incidental to official university business.
Scenario 5: An employee takes a vehicle home overnight prior to an all-day meeting in another part of the State and leaves his vehicle at his official work location. He has tickets to a ball game the evening before this trip, and because the only vehicle he has available is the university vehicle, he drives himself and three friends to the ball game. Using the university vehicle to take friends to the ball game is in violation of this policy. First, travel to and from the ball game is clearly personal and not connected in any way to official university business. Second, carrying persons who are not State employees and who are not engaged in official university business violates this policy and creates a potential liability for the university.
Even in cases where personal use is authorized or is incidental to official business, each person operating a state vehicle is expected to exercise good judgment to avoid the appearance of impropriety.
Unauthorized use of University owned, leased, or rented vehicles for non-authorized purposes may result in suspension/revocation of University authorized driving privileges. Drivers must comply with the following when operating a University owned, leased, or rented vehicle:
- Operate vehicles in accordance with all applicable University, local, state and federal laws.
- No smoking or use of tobacco in accordance with NYS Clean Indoor Air Act.
- Assume responsibility for all operator related traffic violations, including parking citations.
- Possession and/or use of alcohol, illegal drugs or other intoxication substances in the vehicle is prohibited.
- Other than special needs, pets are prohibited in the vehicle.
Specific to fleet vehicles:
- Vehicle use must be requested and approved through the Office of Facilities.
- Vehicle operators should inspect the vehicle at the beginning and end of their driving event. Any issues shall be immediately reported to their Office of Facilities.
- Vehicle mileage, gas purchases, passengers, and trip mileage must all be recorded in vehicle logbook.
- Fuel receipts, logbooks, EZ Passes and any other applicable vehicle documentation/items shall be regularly reviewed by the employee’s supervisor, or by the Office of Facilities.
- Scrapers and snow brooms shall be used to avoid damage to wiper units/blades.
Reporting Accidents and Insurance Information
Drivers of a SUNY Empire Fleet Vehicle
The State self-insures for risks associated with fleet vehicles under the Self-Retained Auto Program (SRAP) administered through OGS.
All accidents must be immediately reported to the VPAF and the Office of Safety & Security (518) 580-2900, but no later than 24 hours after the event. If for some reason the operator is unable to report the accident, it is the responsibility of the operator's immediate supervisor to report the accident. Within 10 days of the event, the Direct of Safety and Security will require the driver to complete and sign a SUNY Empire incident report and the Department of Motor Vehicles’ Report of Motor Vehicle Accident Form (MV-104) to be submitted to SUNY Administration, and the VPAF. SUNY Administration will submit the form to OGS within 30 days of the event. SUNY Administration will additionally submit the MV-104 form to the Department of Motor Vehicles if the accident caused death, personal injury, or damage over $1,000. More information about SRAP can be found on the OGS webpage for fleet management https://ogs.ny.gov/fleet-management
Drivers of vehicles rented by SUNY Empire
Procedures for renting vehicles can be found on the University’s internal staff webpages under the heading “Travel Information”. Employees should have the rental direct billed to ensure the most coverage of insurance. The purchase of supplemental liability coverage will not be reimbursed to employees. Only authorized drivers for SUNY Empire are allowed to drive the rental vehicle at any time during the rental agreement. Drivers are authorized by filling out the travel pre-approval forms available on the internal staff webpage under the heading “Finance Office”. If renting a vehicle without using the state contract and/or direct bill or without using the university’s purchase card, the Optional Vehicle Protection (or Collision Damage Waiver [CDW]) should be purchased. This coverage shields both the employee and the State of New York from any liability for theft or damage to the rental car. The cost is typically a reimbursable expense by the State for renting a car. If using direct bill or the university’s purchase card, this protection is not necessary to add on.
All accidents must be immediately reported to the VPAF and the Office of Safety & Security, but no later than 24 hours after the event. If for some reason the operator is unable to report the accident, it is the responsibility of the operator's immediate supervisor to report the accident. Additionally, when there is damage to a rental vehicle the following reporting procedures are required by SUNY; and will be performed by the finance office upon learning of the event from the Office of Safety & Security:
- The bank from which the purchasing card was issued should be notified immediately.
- The rental agency should be notified immediately, coverage with CDW should be verified.
- If the vehicle was rented without direct bill, a purchase card, or CDW, the employee’s own car insurance should be notified immediately. It is the responsibility of the driver to notify their own insurance provider.
Additionally, when there is damage to a rental vehicle and also personal injury, the VPAF will notify SUNY Office of General Counsel immediately.
Employees and volunteers who drive rental vehicles on state business must look first to the mandated liability insurance coverage provided by the rental car company (if the vehicle is rented in NYS), then to their personal auto liability policy (unless business use is excluded) and finally to the State’s self-insurance for coverage. This means that most likely a private auto insurance company will be providing legal representation for the employee or volunteer who is sued for damages arising out of a rental car accident.
Drivers of personal vehicles being reimbursed for mileage by SUNY Empire
When driving a personal vehicle, the driver’s own personal automobile liability insurance provides the first layer of insurance coverage in an accident. All employees and volunteers should confirm their insurance carrier covers business use of their personal vehicles. If the employee’s personal insurance excludes business use, the State’s self-insurance will provide the primary coverage. Reports of accidents to the Attorney General must occur within 30 days of the event, using the following process.
If an accident occurs when driving in a personal vehicle the accident must be reported to the VPAF and the Office of Safety & Security, within 24 hours of the event. If for some reason the operator is unable to report the accident, it is the responsibility of the operator's immediate supervisor to report the accident. The driver should notify their own personal insurance company immediately. The VPAF will notify SUNY Office of General Counsel immediately, for consultation regarding the necessity of reporting to the Attorney General, and/or the Department of Motor Vehicle using form MV-104.
For all accidents
A. All New York State agencies are required to fill out and submit Form (MV-104) if the accident resulted in any of the following:
- An incident involving a fatality;
- An incident which has had or will have a significant negative impact on New York State’s insurance premiums and/or insurance coverages;
- An instance in which the New York State operator has accumulated two (2) or more moving accidents (i.e., a vehicle in motion) within a 24-month period;
- Incident(s) in which a New York State vehicle(s) is deemed to be a “total loss” where frequency and/or cost appear to be factors;
- An incident resulting in $5,000 or more in property damage;
- An incident resulting in $10,000 or more in bodily injury damages;
- Incident raising questions or concerns about fleet policy or procedure from a state risk management perspective; and
- An incident that is a legal violation that is reported through the Department of Motor Vehicles License Event Notification Service (LENS) program.
As stated in the section on fleet vehicles, this form is filled out for every accident and submitted to SUNY. If the accident has occurred in a rental vehicle or in a personal vehicle, the Director of Safety and Security will work with the driver to fill out the form and submit to SUNY within 10 days of the event. SUNY will submit to the Department of Motor Vehicles.
B. 12 NYCRR § 801.39 requires that an employer must, within eight (8) hours, orally report by telephone or in person to the nearest office of the New York State Department of Labor, Division of Safety and Health (DOSH) the in-patient hospitalization of two (2) or more employees as a result of a work-related incident. The Director of Safety and Security will perform this task.
C. Report incidents involving an automobile and a stationary object on a campus to the Office of Safety and Security. The driver will be required to fill out the Motor Vehicle Accident Report form (MV-104A). If there is personal injury involving employees, complete a SUNY Empire Accident/Injury Report Form for completing necessary worker's compensation forms.
Applicable Legislation and Regulations
Section 17(7) of the NYS Public Officers Law
Related References, Policies, Procedures, Forms and Appendices
Appendix A LENS Authorization Form (PDF 241kB)