Growing up, we were warned again and again about the dangers of driving drunk. However, one thing that didn’t come up as much as driving while tired, even though it can be just as dangerous in some cases. Tired driving causes several thousand accidents per year and might kill as many as 6,000 people.
If tired driving is about as dangerous as drunk driving, are there legal consequences for it? The answer is somewhat complicated because while most states don’t have laws on the book specifically for tired driving, they can still charge you for any other traffic laws you break.
We’ll discuss the specifics of tired driving and the law in this article.
States That Outlaw Tired Driving
Before discussing how tired driving is handled in most states, let’s discuss the states where it’s on the books as a crime. There are two states that consider it illegal–Arkansas and New Jersey.
Even so, these laws don’t completely outlaw driving while tired. In Arkansas, causing a fatal accident after going 24 hours without sleep is considered a negligent homicide.
New Jersey’s laws, meanwhile, state that operating a motor vehicle after 24 hours without sleep constitutes reckless driving. A DUI is also considered reckless driving, so the state treats the two conditions the same.
Consequences in Other States
Just because most states haven’t outlawed tired driving specifically, it doesn’t mean you can’t be arrested after driving tired. One law that all states have on the books is reckless driving.
Reckless driving is difficult to define since each state describes it slightly differently. The basic definition is actively dangerous and negligent driving and includes things like driving drunk, drifting over the centerline, consistently failing to obey road signs, and several other things.
If you look like you’re driving dangerously, you can probably be charged. Reckless driving is only one potential charge to worry about. If you happen to damage properties or, worse yet, hurt someone, you could be facing a lot worse than reckless driving.
DUI, Drowsy Driving, And Mistakes
Even if you’re not drunk, it is still possible to be arrested for drunk driving. The symptoms are often quite similar, so it’s possible that exhaustion could be mistaken for drunkenness.
The good news is the DUI charge will most likely be dropped as soon as you take a breathalyzer test. If, for some reason, it isn’t, you’ll need a good lawyer. They can advise you on the best DUI defenses and help you plan your strategy.
Can You Get a DUI for Driving While Tired?
Is driving while tired grounds for a DUI? In most states, the answer is no, but that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. There are a lot of other potential crimes that you could be charged with, especially if you happen to have run into someone or something.
We’ve discussed some of the consequences you might face for drowsy driving in this article, but there’s a lot we didn’t have space to cover, and laws do change on occasion.
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