Driving When You’re Sleepy Can Land You in Jail

man rubbing his eyes behind the wheel of a car- drowsy driving

Driving When You’re Sleepy Can Land You in Jail

Driving while drowsy is a surefire way to wind up in an accident. It is the cause of over 90,000 accidents, nearly 700 fatalities, and countless injuries every year in the United States. If you cause a death, an injury, or property damage because of falling asleep at the wheel, you could wind up getting arrested

Drowsy Driving Is Impaired Driving 

When you are sleepy, getting behind the wheel can make you a danger to yourself and others. It hinders your ability to pay attention to the road, make good decisions, and react quickly. 

If you feel sleepy, the best thing you can do is pull over, preferably in a parking lot or rest stop, and take a short rest. You may feel sleepy for many different reasons, so it is important to know the signs of drowsiness.

Commons Reasons for Sleepiness When Driving

  • Driving late at night, or after a long work shift
  • Restless sleep from undiagnosed sleep disorders
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Certain medications 
  • Caring for very young children
  • Long road trips

Symptoms of Drowsy Driving

  • Frequent yawning
  • Inability to keep your eyes open
  • Trouble keeping your head up
  • Feeling grouchy or impatient 
  • Inability to remember the last few miles you drove
  • Missing exits, turns, or road signs
  • Drifting between lanes, or onto the shoulder

What’s the Worst That Can Happen? 

“I’m always tired! What is the worst that can happen?” While this lament is a common one, it is never a good reason to turn the key and drive. The worst that can happen is that you cause your own death or the death of another person. You might even end up in jail or prison because of one poor decision. 

Reckless Driving

Reckless driving is defined as driving without regard for the safety of others. Most often this is seen as driving over the speed limit, driving without a license, swerving in and out of lanes, or purposely driving too close to pedestrians or other vehicles. However, it can also include falling asleep at the wheel. 

Causing property damage or injury to others when driving recklessly can result in a class 2 misdemeanor, fines, and even the loss of your license. For those previously convicted of reckless driving, a second offense becomes a class 1 misdemeanor, with a minimum of 20 days in jail and the loss of their license for one year. 

Vehicular Manslaughter 

If you were to kill another person while driving drowsy, you could be charged with vehicular manslaughter. “Recklessly causing the death of another person” is a class 2 felony. If convicted, you could be spending the next 3 to 35 years in prison.

You Need the Best Criminal Defense Attorney in Arizona 

If you are being charged with a crime, it is important to have a lawyer on your side from the start. Criminal trials can be long and complicated, and being convicted of a misdemeanor or a felony can result in drastic changes to your life. A good lawyer can mitigate these changes, or keep you from experiencing them all together.

Todd Coolidge has over 25 years of experience in the Arizona justice system, and he believes that all cases deserve a fair shot. If you’re in trouble because of a drowsy driving incident, contact us today for a consultation.


Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (5/31/23). Photo by Johan Funke on Unsplash.