Driving drowsy isn’t a crime. But it can lead to other serious vehicular offenses including DUI or reckless endangerment.
The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the National Center for Disease Control (CDC) have released reports about hazards of “drowsy driving”. Both of these are high risk behaviors that can result in serious injury or death involving auto accidents.
While drowsy driving is not a crime itself, it could lead to the commission of serious vehicular crimes such as DUI charges, reckless endangerment, aggravated assault, or vehicular homicide.
Warning signs of both driving drowsy and DUI are often similar in nature. Drowsy driving can lead to DUI charges, even if a person was not in fact, impaired to the slightest degree due to intoxicating alcohol or drugs.
How to avoid Drowsy Driving
• Recognition of warning signs and prevention;
• Get adequate sleep. Drivers should ensure that they get enough sleep (7-9 hours)
• Be aware of increased risks such as commercial driving, long shifts or nightshift work;
• Seek medical attention for untreated sleep disorders;
• Do not drive while under the influence of sedating medications;
• Do not drink spirituous liquor prior to or while driving;
• Take precautions and prepare for days or nights of long distance driving such as getting extra rest and sleep before driving;
• If you are a high risk driver due to your work hours, arrange for alternative rides home with a friend or family member, bus, taxi, or other trusted and responsible person.
• If you are in a high risk group for driving get enough rest and sleep before and after your shift.
• If you are driving and unexpectedly find you are driving drowsy, pull over in a safe place will lit location; preferably a rest stop or motel if possible, to sleep until you are feeling alert enough to drive again.
Warning Signs of Driving Drowsy
• Frequent yawning;
• Frequent blinking;
• Difficulty remembering the past few miles you drove;
• Missing planned exits;
• Drifting from one’s lane;
• Hitting rumble (wake-up) strips;
• Staring or tunnel vision;
• Inability to remember recently past road signs;
• Drifting or weaving across lanes without realizing it.
DUI v. Drowsy Driving
The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) researchers identified at least 100 driving cues that have been found to be associated with a Drunk Driving, or impaired. The signs or driving behaviors identified were presented and separated into four main categories:
• Weaving or drifting, and problems maintaining proper lane position;
• Speeding or difficulty braking when needed;
• Vigilance problems such inattentiveness;
• Difficulties with Judgment and decision making skills
Many of these signs are displayed by motorists who are driving while drowsy or tired. As result, a police officer could mistakenly suspect that a driver is under the influence of intoxicating alcohol or drugs. If the officer has probable cause to conduct a DUI blood test and trace compounds of a drug defined under Arizona law, in the person’s system, they are at risk of a DUI. Further if a person had only one drink of intoxicating liquor, which did not result in driving impaired to the slightest degree, they could be mistakenly determined to be driving impaired. A non-underage 21 person will be forced to defend their charges in court, even though they were driving drowsy and not impaired due to blood or alcohol.
DUI Defense Attorney for Charges in Gilbert AZ
If you have been arrested for DUI, or any vehicular criminal offenses in Arizona, you should retain a qualified and experienced criminal attorney to defend your charges. DUI laws and penalties are among the harshest in the country. Your criminal defense lawyer will defend your charges, and protect your rights. There may be defenses you are not aware of that could lead to a dismissal of charges or other favorable outcome in your case.
• Gilbert Arizona Traffic and DUI Unit
• Gilbert AZ Criminal Court Processes
• DUI and Drowsy Driving – Laws and Criminal Defense in Arizona
• National Centers for Disease Control – Drowsy Driving Report January 2013
• National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA)
Law Office of James Novak
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Tempe AZ 85282
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