The Penalties for Drowsy Driving and Falling Asleep at the Wheel
Cincinnati police are urging drivers to stay alert recently after two accidents in two days have been blamed on drowsy driving. Driving when tired could make you four times more likely to crash and drowsy driving can be just as dangerous as driving under the influence of drink or drugs. Falling asleep at the wheel, even for just a few seconds, will cause you to lose control of your vehicle. If you’re lucky, you’ll be shaken awake as you hit the rumble strips. https://www.wlwt.com/article/drowsy-driving-blamed-for-two-accidents-in-two-days-in-cincinnati/22118289
But it’s also very easy to become involved in a serious multiple car and truck collision, leading to lengthy investigations and complicated legal battles.
Driving a Commercial Vehicle and Consequences of Sleep Deprivation
Commercial vehicles are often driven long hours but just because trucks are the workhorses of the auto industry, this doesn’t mean the driver doesn’t need frequent breaks and plenty of sleep. Since 2013, laws regulating the number of hours of driving have been imposed by the FMCSA. These limits were necessary as it was proven that drivers were not good at estimating their own levels of drowsiness.
It is against the law in Ohio to drive a commercial vehicle with impaired ability or alertness and you will be charged with a minor misdemeanor if caught. This won’t result in any jail time but it could mean a fine of up to $150. More seriously, you may risk having your license suspended, leaving you without the means to make a living.
National Highway Traffic Crash Estimates
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that up to 6,000 fatal crashes each year may be caused by drowsy drivers. Some states have introduced legal measures to crack down on driving while tired but with such high accident figures, more needs to be done. Driving after going more than 20 hours without sleep is the equivalent of driving with a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.08%, according to the National Safety Council. Although drowsy driving isn’t a crime for non-commercial drivers, it could lead to other serious vehicular offenses like reckless endangerment and even vehicular manslaughter. The latter is punishable with up to 90 days in jail and a driver’s license suspension for up to 2 years. (1)
As Ohio is a fault-based state, if you cause an accident you will be financially responsible for losses. Causing injuries could also result in compensation being sought through a personal injury lawsuit.
Driving drowsy puts you, your passengers and other road users in danger. Even if you escape from an accident unharmed, you may be prosecuted and if you’re a commercial driver, you also risk losing your livelihood. Keeping alert not only prevents you from causing an accident but it also makes you aware of other tired drivers who may be a danger to you.
Watch Out For This Defense
Many faced with their negligent conduct will say they were sick and had a sudden medical emergency. This could excuse negligent conduct, but never take this statement at face value. A little digging will likely show this was a person that had stayed up way too many hours. And that this was not an emrgency such as an unforseen a heart attack.