Have you ever driven your car when you felt drowsy? Maybe you didn’t get enough sleep or had to take an allergy medicine a few hours ago that is still wearing off. Whatever the cause is, if you’re drowsy when you drive, you should know that you are more likely to make mistakes that lead to a traffic stop.
Drowsy driving is just as dangerous as driving while intoxicated, which may surprise you. Around 83.6 million Americans drive while sleep-deprived, and around 5,000 are killed as a result of drowsy driving crashes annually. The problem with drowsy driving is that people suffer from “micro sleep events.” These are essentially temporary episodes where the driver falls asleep. Each episode may last only a second or up to 30 seconds, but any amount of time asleep means that they aren’t watching the road.
How does drowsy driving compare to drunk driving?
When you go 24 hours without sleep, it’s like driving with a blood alcohol concentration of .10%. Just going 21 hours without sleep impacts a driver enough that it’s like they’re driving with a .08% BAC.
Remember that anyone can drive drowsy, but it’s more likely to impact younger people. Around 50% of drowsy driving crashes involve those who are 25 or younger.
How can you get a DWI from drowsy driving?
The symptoms of driving while intoxicated are similar to the symptoms of driving while drowsy. What most drivers don’t understand, either, is that a DWI may also apply to dangerous driving behaviors caused by drug use, medical conditions, distracted driving or sleepiness. This is much more likely if you used a new medication or had a drink on top of being exhausted, because your symptoms will be more significant and give an officer other potential reasons for your reckless driving habits, like impairment from medications or alcohol.
Fortunately, you can defend yourself. Driving while drowsy is not a crime itself, though you may face other charges for causing crashes or driving recklessly. Your attorney can help you fight DUI charges if you were just tired, so that you can attempt to minimize the damage to your reputation.