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Drowsy driving

By Jeff Terrill

Fort Wayne Reader

2017-11-18


Have you ever nodded off while driving? Well, you arenít alone. Weíve all witnessed lousy driving, right? What about drowsy driving? According to the National Sleep Foundation, 60% of U.S. adult drivers have driven while feeling drowsy.

Traffic laws and enforcement are intended to keep our roads safe. Drowsy driving, however, can be more difficult to legislate and enforce. We all know that a very tired driver is not going to drive as well as an alert driver.

The National Sleep Foundation likens exhausted drivers to drunk drivers. A driver who is awake for a full 24-hour period is just as dangerous as a driver with a blood alcohol level of .10 (.08 or above is illegal).

New Jersey was the first state to pass a drowsy driving law. A person can be charged with vehicular homicide in that state if the driver hasnít slept in 24 hours and someone dies as a result of the driving.

Meet Christie. Christie is sitting in the middle row of her parentsí minivan on the long drive home from her grandparents. Her brother and her mom are sleeping. Christie watches her dad drive. She notices that his head is dropping occasionally. She canít see his eyes but she wonders if heís falling asleep. Christie asks her dad if heís okay. He tells her that heís tired and plans to stop to get some coffee.

Moments later, Christie feels loud vibrations and can tell that the minivan is sliding out of control. The minivan tumbles over and she hears scraping and glass shattering. Airbags surround her and she canít see. Christieís dad gets her and her brother out of the van. A woman in a pick-up truck is parked along the highway. She says sheís a nurse. Christie wants to know where her mother is. No one is telling her.

Several police officers arrive and they are focused on the front passenger seat of the minivan. Christie watches the officers. A fire truck arrives. An ambulance shows up too. A female officer takes Christie to her squad car and gets her a blanket. Christieís brother is taken to the ambulance. Something is wrong with his leg. Christie mentions to the officer that she saw her dad fall asleep a few moments before the accident.

Christie doesnít know it yet, but her mom will not survive the crash. Christieís dad admits to the officers that he must have fallen asleep. Christieís dad will be charged with several felonies including two counts of neglect of a dependent.The court will order Christieís dad to not have contact with Christie or her brother.

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Jeff Terrill is a partner/shareholder with the law firm of Arnold Terrill Anzini, P.C. Mr. Terrill represents clients accused of crimes throughout northeast Indiana. You can contact Mr. Terrill with any questions or comments at his office at 260.420.7777 or via email at jterrill@fortwaynedefense.com. Learn more about his firm at www.fortwaynedefense.com. This article expressed opinions and observations of the author, is not intended as legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship between the author and the reader. Please consult a qualified attorney with any legal questions or issues you might have. Thank you.

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