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Is Driving While Drowsy a Punishable Offense?

Mar 1, 2021 | Auto Accident


Driving while drowsy can be as dangerous as drunk driving, so there are differing opinions on whether or not it’s a punishable offense. 

In Indiana, it is not technically illegal to drive while sleepy. However, driving while drowsy can end up on your driving record if you’ve been cited for an accident where it was found that sleep deprivation contributed to the cause of the accident.

Some states are actively looking for ways to prosecute drowsy driving as a punishable offense since studies increasingly show that sleepy drivers cause upwards of 350,000 accidents a year (or more). That being said, some states train their police officers to detect and detain drivers that exhibit signs of drowsiness while driving.

States That Prosecute Drowsy Drivers

Currently, only Arkansas and New Jersey have officially declared fatigued driving illegal. Fatigued driving becomes illegal when someone who has been deprived of sleep for 24 hours or more gets behind the wheel of a car. Other states are actively taking steps to label car accident deaths resulting from drowsy driving as vehicular homicide, which is a felony charge.

How To Prevent Driving While Drowsy

Due to a large number of car accident injuries and deaths from drivers not getting enough rest, it’s important to protect yourself and others from fatigued driving.

  1.   Do not drive after taking medication that makes you drowsy.

Depending on the type and strength of the medication that you take, some states may try to prosecute you for driving under the influence of mind-altering substances.

  1.   Get more sleep.

This may seem like a no-brainer, but states that have begun prosecuting drowsy drivers are hoping that people will take rest more seriously. Put your screens away earlier in the evening, avoid caffeine, and create a habit of getting at least seven hours of sleep each night.

  1.   Note the signs that you are driving while sleepy.

Drowsy driving can be tricky to detect in yourself because it causes you to space out or lose consciousness for a split second. However, if you notice yourself nodding off or veering out of your lane, those are tell-tale signs that you need sleep. If you continue to operate your vehicle on the road in your current condition, you risk injuring yourself and others in a car accident. Additionally, a police officer that witnesses your drowsy driving will pull you over to check on you.

  1.   Use rest areas and travel stops to sleep or get a “power nap.”

Sometimes, your work schedule demands that you drive early in the morning or late at night. In these cases, you should make yourself stop and rest (even if only briefly) as soon as you begin to feel drowsy. Arriving home or to work a little late is far better than getting injured in a car crash.

What To Do if You Suspect That Someone Else Is Driving While Drowsy

If you or someone you love was injured in a car wreck, and you witnessed the other driver weaving in and out of their lane before the crash, be sure to inform the responding police officer immediately. Even signs that look like drunk driving may be drowsy driving. 

Indiana is an at-fault state. If the other driver was sleep-deprived at the time of the accident, you may be eligible for compensation for your injuries and property damage in a personal injury suit.

Under conditions where you witness another driver on the road showing signs of fatigue (such as truck drivers), tap your horn or flick your lights to get their attention. It is also appropriate to report the driver’s unsafe behavior to the authorities by providing the police with their license plate number.

For more information about how an Indiana car accident attorney can help you with your case involving drowsy driving, contact Stewart & Stewart at 800-333-3529 or visit our website.

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