Asleep at the wheel: bad luck or crime

By MaryKate McCann
January 29, 2013

Getting dressed. Yes I said it; I am guilty of getting dressed while driving. But can they prove it if I got in an accident? My guess is only if I’m not fully dressed.

I take my eyes off the road here and there and I admit it. Act like you aren’t guilty of it as well. Whether it is changing the radio, putting on makeup, turning on the ac, making a phone call or drinking your coffee, I know you get distracted for at least a split second while driving.

Drinking while driving. Texting while driving. You are deciding before you get behind the wheel if you are too drunk to drive. You are deciding if that person who pops up on your phone is important enough to answer right away or can wait for the next red light.  These are the most popular crimes that have serious consequences.

“Crimes usually involve a volitional act to do something the law forbids, such as drink, text and speed,” Bill Fitzpatrick, deputy states attorney for the district of New Jersey, said.

What about sleeping while driving..

Is it a crime? Or is it just poor judgment?

“What would be considered being ‘too drowsy ?’ ” Adam Sodl, criminology major, said. “It’s not punishable and you can’t prove it. That’s why they call it an accident.”

“If there is a crime, the government always needs to prove the defendant’s conduct beyond a reasonable doubt,” Fitzpatrick said.

There are times when I would feel like I just drank two glasses of wine.

Having multiple jobs, athletic practices and classroom work overload leaves me with less energy to do things I normally do, want to do or even have to do. I have fallen asleep at the wheel two times. Let’s just say thank god for the “wake up bumps” on the side of the road.

Sleep-deprivation causes drivers to be less attentive and a slower decision making. Being awake for a certain amount of hours leads to a decrease in performance. It is needed to regenerate the brain and function with a normal behavior.

“Falling asleep is more of an act of negligence which is not criminal,” Fitzpatrick said. “But if you negligently harm someone you can be civilly liable to pay for the harm you caused.”


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MaryKate McCann

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