Summaries of Current Drowsy Driving Laws

7/10/2018

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

Alabama: SJR 71(2016)
The state enacted a resolution that designates November 19th each year as Drowsy Driver Awareness Day.

Arkansas: SB 874, 2013 Ark. Pub. Act. No. 1296 (2013)
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.

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

Florida: 2010 Fla. Laws ch. 223
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.

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

Texas: HR 1389 (2013)
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.

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 2016 related to Drowsy Driving

Alabama: SJR 71 (2016)
Designates November 19th each year as Drowsy Driver Awareness Day.
Last Action: Enacted 

Massachusetts: SB 2110 (2016) - Designates the second week of November as Massachusetts Drowsy Driving Prevention Week and recommends that the 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: Failed. 

Summaries of Bills Introduced in 2015 related to Drowsy Driving

Maine: HB 683 (2015)
Creates the new crime of operating while fatigued. A person commits the crime of operating while fatigued if that person operates a motor vehicle while having been without sleep for a period of 24 consecutive hours; while having been without sleep for 24 consecutive hours and is in the state of sleep; or while the person's ability or alertness is so impaired by fatigue as to make it unsafe to begin or continue to operate a motor vehicle. The criminal and administrative penalties for operating while fatigued.
Last Action: Failed. 

Massachusetts: SB 1665 (2015)
Designates the second week of November as Massachusetts Drowsy Driving Prevention Week and recommends that the 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: Failed.

New York: AB 692 (2015)
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.

Summaries of Bills Introduced in 2014 related to Drowsy Driving

Tennessee: SB 2586 (2014)
Adds driving while impaired by fatigue, punishable as a Class E felony, to the offense of vehicular homicide.
Last Action: Failed.

Utah: SB 149 (2014)
Designates the third full week in August as Drowsy Driving Awareness Week to educate the public about the relationship between fatigue and driving performance and encourage the Department of Public Safety and the Department of Transportation to recognize and promote educational efforts on the dangers of drowsy driving.
Last Action: Adopted March 27, 2014.

Summaries of Bills Introduced in 2013 related to Drowsy Driving

Massachusetts: SB 1688 (2013)
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: Failed.

Massachusetts: SB 1511 (2013)
Recognizes the second week of November as “Massachusetts Drowsy Driving Prevention Week” to increase public awareness about the problem of drowsy driving.
Last Action: Failed.

New York: AB 2384 (2013)
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: Failed.

New York: AB 3764 (2013)
Requires the Department of Motor Vehicles to include information on drowsy driving in the driver safety course.
Last Action: Failed.

New York: AB 5222 (2013)
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: Failed.

New York: SB 485 (2013)
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.
 
Texas: HB 295 (2013)
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.

Summaries of Bills Introduced in 2012 related to Drowsy Driving

Massachusetts: SB 1773 (2012)
Relates to drowsy driving. Provides a definition of drowsy driving and imposes fines and penalties.
Last Action: Failed.
 
Massachusetts: SB 1601 (2012)
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: Failed.
 
New York: AB 8629 (2012)
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.
 
New York: AB 1161 (2012)
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.
 
New York: AB 7192 (2012) 
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.

New York: AB 2535 (2012)
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.

Summaries of Bills Introduced in 2011 related to Drowsy Driving

Massachusetts: SB 1773 (2011)
Relates to drowsy driving. Provides a definition of drowsy driving and imposes fines and penalties.
Last Action: Failed.

Massachusetts: SB 1601 (2011)
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: Failed.

New York: AB 8629 (2011)
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.

New York: AB 1161 (2011)
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.

Oregon: HB 2749 (2011)
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: Failed.

Texas: HB 1654 (2011)
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: Failed.

Summaries of Bills Introduced in 2009 related to Drowsy Driving

Massachusetts: SB 1939 (2009)
Relates to drowsy driving. Provides a definition of drowsy driving and imposes fines and penalties.
Last Action: Failed.

New York: AB 1637 (2009)
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.

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.

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