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Summaries of Current Drowsy Driving Laws

Summaries of Current Drowsy Driving Laws

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woman driving drowsyUpdated July 2014

Recently there have been legislative efforts to reduce the number of drowsy drivers on the road. Drowsy driving is implicated in 100,000 car crashes per year, which leave 71,000 people injured and 1,500 dead according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. New research on the need for adequate sleep in maintaining good health, coupled with the negative impacts of sleep deprivation are coming to the attention of policymakers, and legislation is beginning to be crafted regarding the role of drowsy driving in traffic accidents.


Summaries of Current Drowsy Driving Laws

Arkansas: SB 874- Sponsored by Senator Jason Rapert (R)
Classifies “fatigued driving” as an offense under negligent homicide- punishable by a class A misdemeanor- when the driver involved in a fatal accident has been without sleep for 24 consecutive hours or is the a state of sleep after being without sleep for 24 consecutive hours.
Last Action: Enacted. 2013 Ark. Pub. Act. No. 1296. (4/16/2013)

California: The state enacted a resolution that proclaimed April 6, 2005 as Drowsy Driver Awareness Day. (California Senate Concurrent Resolution 27, 2005)

Florida: The state passed the “Ronshay Dugans Act” proclaiming the first week of September as “Drowsy Driving Prevention Week.” During the week, the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles and the Department of Transportation are encouraged to educated the law enforcement community and the public about the relationship between fatigue and performance and the research showing fatigue to be as much of an impairment as alcohol and as dangerous while driving a motor vehicle. (2010 Fla. Laws ch. 223)

New Jersey: A driver that has been without sleep for 24 hours is considered to be driving recklessly, in the same class as an intoxicated driver. (New Jersey Statues §2C:11-5)

Pennsylvania: HR 664- Sponsored by Representative Gregory S. Vitali (D)
Designates the month of April, 2012 as “Distracted Driving Awareness Month.”
Last Action: Adopted (04/04/2012)

Texas: HR 1389- Sponsored by Representative Eddie Rodriguez (D)
Recognizes the week of November 6 to November 12 as “Drowsy Driving Prevention Week” to educate the motoring public about the dangers of drowsy driving and offer preventative methods to avoid drowsy driving.
Last Action: Adopted (05/01/2013)

Utah: The Utah Department of Transportation has commissioned studies to determine which highways in the state are most prone to drowsy driving. With this information they have begun installing road signs that warn against drowsy driving and provide information on where drivers can pull over to rest.

Summaries of Bills Introduced in 2014 related to Drowsy Driving

Tennessee: SB 2586- Sponsored by Senator Janice Bowling (R)
Adds driving while impaired by fatigue, punishable as a Class E felony, to the offense of vehicular homicide.
Last Action: Failed-Adjourned. Sent to Senate Committee on Judiciary.

Summaries of Bills Introduced in 2013 related to Drowsy Driving

Massachusetts: SB 1688- Sponsored by Senator Richard T. Moore (D)
Creates a commission to study the impact of drowsy driving on state highways; requires drivers wishing to obtain or renew a commercial drivers license with a body mass index of greater than 33 kg/m2 to undergo a screening for sleep apnea; requires the Department of Motor Vehicles to include education about the effects of sleep deprivation and driving  as part of a drivers license application; creates a new standard for impaired driving if the driver has been awake for 22 of the past 24 hours or 140 of the past 168 hours.
Last Action: Pending. Sent to Joint Transportation Committee

Massachusetts: SB 1511- Sponsored by Senator Richard T. Moore (D)
Recognizes the second week of November as “Massachusetts Drowsy Driving Prevention Week” to increase public awareness about the problem of drowsy driving.
Last Action: Pending. Sent to Joint Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight.

New York: AB 2384- Sponsored by Assembly Member Michael Miller (D)
Creates the offense “driving while drowsy” to be punishable by a class A misdemeanor, creates the offense of “vehicular homicide caused by driving while ability impaired by fatigue” to be punishable by a class E felony.
Last Action: Pending. Sent to Assembly Transportation Committee.

New York: AB 3764- Sponsored by Assembly Member David F. Gantt (D)
Requires the Department of Motor Vehicles to include information on drowsy driving in the driver safety course.
Last Action: Pending. Sent to Assembly Transportation Committee.

New York: AB 5222- Sponsored by Assembly Member Sandy Galef (D)
Creates two offenses related to drowsy driving. “Driving while ability impaired by fatigue” is defined as operating a motor vehicle when the driver’s alertness is so impaired, through fatigue, that it makes it unsafe for the driver to begin or continue to drive. The second offense, “aggravated driving while ability impaired by fatigue,” is defined as operating a motor vehicle in a manner described above and the driver causes serious physical injury or death to another person. The first offense is prohibited without specifying a penalty for noncompliance, whereas the second offense is classified as a misdemeanor.
Last Action: Pending. Sent to Assembly Transportation Committee.

New York: SB 485- Sponsored by Senator Toby A. Stravinsky (D)
Creates the offense “operating a vehicle while fatigued,” which can be proven by showing that the driver fell asleep while driving or by showing that the driver should have been reasonably aware that he or she had been without sleep for at least 24 consecutive hours. A violation of the offense results in a class A misdemeanor; provides an exception for emergency personnel.
Last Action: Pending. Sent to Senate Transportation Committee.
 
Texas: HB 295- Sponsored by Representative Eddie Rodriguez (D)
Creates the “Drowsy Driving Study Commission” to study the effects of sleep deprivation, determine scientific and legal standards that can be applied to drowsy driving, suggest appropriate sanctions for drowsy driving, and develop programs to educate the public on drowsy driving and law enforcement officials on how to recognize signs of drowsy driving.
Last Action: Failed-Adjourned. Sent to House Transportation Committee.

Summaries of Bills Introduced in 2012 related to Drowsy Driving

Massachusetts SB 1773: Sponsored by Senator Richard T. Moore (D)
Relates to drowsy driving. Provides a definition of drowsy driving and imposes fines and penalties.
Last Action: In Senate Joint Committee on Transportation – set aside for study.
 
Massachusetts SB 1601: Sponsored by Senator Richard T. Moore (D)
The governor shall annually issue a proclamation setting apart the second week of November as Massachusetts Drowsy Driving Prevention Week and recommending that such week be properly observed as a period of special attention to the need for public awareness and action relative to the problems of drowsy driving and driver fatigue.
Last Action: Sent to Joint Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight: Heard. Eligible for Executive Session.
 
New York AB 8629: Sponsored by Grace Meng (D)
Creates the offense of driving while drowsy, a class A misdemeanor; includes driving while drowsy under the offense of vehicular assault in the second degree; creates the crime of vehicular homicide caused by driving while ability impaired by fatigue, a class E felony, subject to an indeterminate term of imprisonment of up to three years and license revocation.
Last Action: Sent to Assembly Committee on Transportation.
 
New York AB 1161: Sponsored by Assembly Member Jonathan Bing (D)
Creates the offense of driving while drowsy, a class A misdemeanor; includes driving while drowsy under the offense of vehicular assault in the second degree; creates the crime of vehicular homicide caused by driving while ability impaired by fatigue, a class E felony, subject to an indeterminate term of imprisonment of up to three years and license revocation.
Last Action: Failed-Adjourned. Sent to Assembly Committee on Transportation.
 
New York AB 7192: Sponsored by Assembly Member Sandy Galef (D)
Creates two offenses related to drowsy driving. “Driving while ability impaired by fatigue” is defined as the operation of a motor vehicle when the driver’s alertness is so impaired, through fatigue, that it makes it unsafe for the driver to begin or continue to drive. The second offense, “aggravated driving while ability impaired by fatigue,” is defined as operating a motor vehicle in a manner described above and the driver causes serious physical injury or death to another person. The first offense is prohibited without specifying a penalty for noncompliance, whereas the second offense is classified as a misdemeanor.
Last Action: Failed-Adjourned. Sent to Assembly Transportation Committee.

New York AB 2535: Sponsored by Assembly Member Grace Meng (D)
Creates the offense “operating a vehicle while fatigued,” which can be proven by showing that the driver fell asleep while driving or by showing that the driver should have been reasonably aware that he or she had been without sleep for at least 24 consecutive hours. A violation of the offense results in a class A misdemeanor; provides an exception for emergency personnel.
Last Action: Failed-Adjourned. Sent to Assembly Transportation Committee.

Summaries of Bills Introduced in 2011 related to Drowsy Driving

Massachusetts SB 1773: Sponsored by Senator Richard T. Moore (D)
Relates to drowsy driving. Provides a definition of drowsy driving and imposes fines and penalties.
Last Action: In Senate Joint Committee on Transportation – set aside for study.

Massachusetts SB 1601: Sponsored by Senator Richard T. Moore (D)
The governor shall annually issue a proclamation setting apart the second week of November as Massachusetts Drowsy Driving Prevention Week and recommending that such week be properly observed as a period of special attention to the need for public awareness and action relative to the problems of drowsy driving and driver fatigue.
Last Action: Sent to Joint Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight: Heard. Eligible for Executive Session.

New York AB 8629: Sponsored by Grace Meng (D)
Creates the offense of driving while drowsy, a class A misdemeanor; includes driving while drowsy under the offense of vehicular assault in the second degree; creates the crime of vehicular homicide caused by driving while ability impaired by fatigue, a class E felony, subject to an indeterminate term of imprisonment of up to three years and license revocation.
Last Action: Sent to Assembly Committee on Transportation.

New York AB 1161: Sponsored by Jonathan Bing (D)
Creates the offense of driving while drowsy, a class A misdemeanor; includes driving while drowsy under the offense of vehicular assault in the second degree; creates the crime of vehicular homicide caused by driving while ability impaired by fatigue, a class E felony, subject to an indeterminate term of imprisonment of up to three years and license revocation.
Last Action: Failed-Adjourned. Sent to Assembly Committee on Transportation.

Oregon HB 2749: Sponsored by Brian Clem (D)
Creates offense of driving while drowsy; punishes by maximum fine of $360; creates offense of driving while drowsy and harming another person; punishes by maximum fine of $720 or, if commission of offense contributes to serious physical injury of another person, maximum of 30 days' imprisonment, $1,250 fine, or both; creates offense of criminal driving while drowsy; punishes by maximum of 20 years' imprisonment, $375,000 fine, or both.
Last Action: Sent to House Committee on the Judiciary.

Texas HB 1654: Sponsored by Joaquin Castro (D)
Creates the Drowsy Driving Study Commission to study the effect of drowsy driving on highway safety. The Commission would study the effect of sleep deprivation on persons operating a motor vehicle and suggest appropriate sanctions.
Last Action: Sent to the House Committee on Transportation.

Summaries of Bills Introduced in 2009 related to Drowsy Driving

Massachusetts SB 1939: Sponsored by Senator Richard T. Moore (D)
Relates to drowsy driving. Provides a definition of drowsy driving and imposes fines and penalties.
Last Action: Failed-Adjourned. Referred to Senate Joint Committee on Transportation

New York AB 1637: Sponsored by Jonathan Bing (D)
Creates the offense of driving while drowsy, a class A misdemeanor; includes driving while drowsy under the offense of vehicular assault in the second degree; creates the crime of vehicular homicide caused by driving while ability impaired by fatigue, a class E felony, subject to an indeterminate term of imprisonment of up to three years and license revocation.
Last Action: Failed-Adjourned. Sent to Assembly Committee on Transportation.

Summaries of Bills Introduced in 1997 related to Drowsy Driving

Washington SB 5302: Sponsored by Senators Long, Anderson, and Wood
Penalizing sleeping-driver homicide. Declares that, when the death of a person ensues within three years as a proximate result of injury proximately caused by the driving of a vehicle by a person, the driver is guilty of sleeping driver homicide if, under circumstances not constituting vehicular homicide, the driver: (1) Fell asleep while operating a motor vehicle; and (2) the circumstances leading up to the accident would have indicated to a reasonable person that he or she was likely to fall asleep at the wheel. Declares that sleeping-driver homicide is a gross misdemeanor punishable under chapter 9A.20 RCW.
Last Action: Failed-Adjourned. Referred to Senate Law & Justice Committee

 

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