Drowsy Driving

21 November 2014
 Categories: , Blog


Being convicted of a DUI can be a pretty serious situation. Not only can you lose your driver's license and be required to pay some pretty hefty fines, but money paid to a DUI attorney can really add up. While DUIs are taken very seriously, drowsy driving, or driving while very sleepy, but without the presence of medications in the system, is not taken as seriously. According to a poll conducted by the National Sleep Foundation, more than 1/3 of the drivers polled admitted to having fallen asleep while driving in the past. Even though driving while drowsy can result in serious accidents and even fatalities, drowsy drivers are often able to "get away with" causing car crashes because they simply fell asleep. There are two main reasons why.

Inability to test

One reason why a driver that falls asleep at the wheel is not treated in the same manner as someone driving under the influence is because there is no test available to detect sleepiness. Blood tests can detect street or prescription drugs in the blood, but what about a person who is simply sleep-deprived and causes an accident after falling asleep while driving? It is impossible to test, which is why drowsy drivers are often given much lighter sentences.

Improper training

The legal system is all about proving, without a doubt, that a crime or potential crime was committed before convicting a suspect. If a driver informs authorities that he or she fell asleep while driving, most police officers have not undergone training regarding how to handle such a situation. As long as the driver passes the customary sobriety test and no one was seriously injured in the car accident, then most police officers have no choice but to allow the person to go free.

Not all states take drowsy driving lightly

The state of New Jersey is one of the few states with certain laws in effect for those who fall asleep behind the wheel. Due to Maggie's Law, a driver who nods while driving and causes a fatal accident can be charged with vehicular manslaughter. This can land the driver in prison for as long as 10 years, with a fine of $150,000.

The implications of drowsy driving can be just as negative as a person driving under the influence. Despite its similarities to driving on the influence, drowsy driving is hugely under-reported, often enabling drowsy drivers who cause car crashes to receive minimal consequences. Operating a motor vehicle while experiencing excessive sleepiness and then causing a near-fatal or even a fatal car accident is no different, and the law may finally be starting to realize this. Talk to a professional like Blumenauer Hackworth for more information.