December 26, 2012

"Should drowsy driving be prosecuted like drunken driving..."

"... or is nodding off at the wheel simply an accident – like hitting a patch of ice?"

19 comments:

great Unknown said...

Redirect the comparison. Should hitting a patch of ice be prosecuted if the weather report/news warned of the presence of such patches?

campy said...

Would David Gregory be prosecuted if he drove drowsy?

Richard Dolan said...

It's an interesting theory that is likely to suffer from the difficulty in proving it. Driving while drowsy follows the DUI concept quite closely in all except one respect: there is no medical means of measuring drowsiness, nor any line that a legislature could use to demarcate drowsy-but-OK from too drowsy to drive. There was a time when criminal statutes were vague in terms of the lines they drew, as the law relied more on the common sense of juries to separate acceptable from criminal conduct. (Common law homicide crimes as well as self defense doctrines were classic examples.). But in today's bureaucratic state, that loose-goose approach has been mostly abandoned, deemed too vague for our more precise tastes in these things. Pity.

Richard Dolan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
edutcher said...

Sounds like somebody's reaching.

Erika said...

I fell asleep behind the wheel and crashed my car when I was a teenager. I got a very large ticket for reckless driving as a result. I richly deserved it; it's a minor miracle that I didn't kill anyone. This seems reasonable to me; as Richard points out, it's pretty hard to measure levels of sleepiness precisely enough for criminal prosecution.

Eustace Chilke said...

If there was a test for drowsy driving that could yeild a number on a chart it would already be prosecuted. The ravenous justice system would never miss such an opportunity.

Impairment shouldn't be prosecuted at all. Every sort of impairment varies in it's effect across the population. Prosecution should be based on actual harm done.

MadisonMan said...

Just one more possible law I have broken. I've committed so many felonies in my life.

XRay said...

How about driving while stupid, which I see many indulge in every day, can we get that on the books. Which ties in to 'great Unknowns'' comment re icing. I mean, you knew there was ice on the road and you still drove????

betamax3000 said...

In my defense it was a Zamboni.

Robert Cook said...

One cannot always know when one may become drowsy while driving, and it may not always be possible to promptly or conveniently pull over when overcome by drowsiness.

I have not driven extensively in over 30 years, (since I moved to NYC), but I can remember heading out in the morning once to make a 90 minute drive from my town to another and suddenly finding myself overcome with drowsiness about 30 minutes into my drive. Unfortunately, I was on the interstate highway system at this time and there were miles to go before I could find a place to stop. I had made the drive before and fortunately knew there was a truckstop ahead where I could pull into the parking lot and nap...if I could make it there without incident.

I did manage to make it, stopped, napped, and continued on my way refreshed. I was extremely lucky. However, I did not know beforehand I would become drowsy, as I had had a full night's sleep before beginning my drive.

A driver who has been drinking, on the other hand, certainly knows he has put himself in a state of diminished capacity to drive safely and should not get behind the wheel to start with.

Dante said...

Of course. You shouldn't get behind a wheel if the risk of hurting someone else is high.

Same goes for old age, etc.

What, the people drunk drivers kill aren't as dead as the people old people kill, or the people killed because someone fell asleep aren't as dead?

There isn't much reason for these laws except insofar as they protect society. So I imagine some leniency could be added based on recidivism. That is, no need to execute the old person if the chance of recurrence is low, and setting an example doesn't work.

While we are at it, why does premeditated murder have a higher penalty than on the spot murder? It seems like it should be the other way around. At least the person premeditating is making some mental calculation. If you lost control of your emotions, there seems no checks and balances can stop that.

Lawyer Mom said...

Should groping while copping be prosecuted like sexual assault?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f6gOkDiUCA0

Astro said...

It's a question of negligence, isn't it? If the prosecutor can establish a case of negligence then that could be a reason to prosecute, I'd think.
Someone hitting a patch of ice and causing damage is an accident unless the person was driving too fast for the road conditions, driving with bald tires, deliberately driving on ice for a thrill, and so on.
Same with drowsiness. Is there evidence that negligence was involved?
I sometimes make 12 hour long road trips, but I stop every few hours and take a break. I drink coffee or coke and eat salty snacks that keep me alert. If I feel I'm starting to get drowsy I put ice in my mouth until I get to a place I can take a short nap.

mininerd said...

I would think it could already be prosecuted as reckless driving.

Scott M said...

Driving while drowsy follows the DUI concept quite closely in all except one respect: there is no medical means of measuring drowsiness, nor any line that a legislature could use to demarcate drowsy-but-OK from too drowsy to drive.

Not only that, but it's usually apparent to a cop that a driver has been drinking. If you are involved in an accident while driving drowsy, by the time the cops show up, you're going to be WIDE awake.

mikee said...

This is already prosecutable under losing control of your car, which ignores the cause and prosecutes the effect.

I don't care if the car ahead of me on the freeway is swerving because the driver is asleep, or unconscious due to diabetes, or fighting a sudden bee, or drunk, I care that he is swerving instead of driving correctly.

I agree with Eustace above:

Prosecution should be based on actual harm done.

Methadras said...

BAN ALL DRIVERS FOR EVERYTHING!!!

city said...

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