Why Drowsy Driving Cases are Difficult to ProveJanuary 30, 2019
Drowsy driving is one of the more common causes of car accidents in this country. According to the American Sleep Foundation, approximately 50 percent of drivers in the United States admit that they drive while feeling drowsy, and 20 percent admitted to actually falling asleep behind the wheel at some point within the past year.
In 2015 alone, close to 5,000 people were fatally injured in drowsy driving accidents. However, unlike drunk driving, which can be proved using a Breathalyzer test, drowsy driving is much more difficult to prove.
Driving on too little sleep is more dangerous than people might think. In fact, being awake for 18 hours straight can have the same effect on the driver’s ability to operate a motor vehicle as if he or she were legally drunk. The lack of sleep impacts a driver’s ability to react quickly to a potentially hazardous situation. As a result, driving while drowsy puts the driver at risk, as well as the other passengers in the vehicle and other drivers in the vicinity.
Roadblocks to Proving Drowsy Driving
If a car accident is caused by a drowsy driver, it can be difficult to prove that the driver’s lack of sleep is the blame.
Currently, New Jersey is the only state that has passed legislation that addresses the drowsy driving issue. “Maggie’s Law” was passed after 20-year-old college student Maggie McDonnell was killed in a car accident involving another driver who had not slept for 30 hours straight.
Other states, Including Maryland, must rely on the following evidence in a drowsy driving case:
- The accident report may provide evidence that the at-fault driver was drowsy at the time of the accident. For example, if the driver swerved into a busy intersection and there were no skid marks on the road, this suggests that the driver did not hit the brakes, and may have fallen asleep at the wheel.
- The at-fault driver’s cell phone records may provide evidence that the driver had traveled a long distance over an extended period of time without taking a break for sleep.
- Witnesses may be able to offer testimony about the driver’s schedule, and establish a pattern of being awake for long hours. In addition, if the driver was taking any prescription medications that cause drowsiness, this can provide evidence of drowsy driving.
Drowsy Driving and Negligent Homicide
If a drowsy driving accident results in fatalities, the above evidence may not be enough to prove negligent homicide, although it will be useful in proving that the driver was drowsy.
In order to obtain a negligent homicide conviction, the prosecutor will need to prove serious blameworthiness, moral blameworthiness, or dangerous speeding, which are all high standards. An experienced Baltimore car accident lawyer will be able to recommend the best legal course of action based on the circumstances of the accident.
Baltimore Car Accident Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Represent Victims of Drowsy Driving Accidents
If you have been injured in a drowsy driving accident, you are urged to contact the Baltimore car accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton. We will work closely with you through every step of the claims process and ensure that your legal rights are protected at all times. We will secure the maximum financial compensation you deserve for your injuries. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.
Our offices are located in Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie, and Towson, allowing us to represent car accident victims in Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Baltimore County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Prince George’s County, Queen Anne’s County, Southern Maryland, and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood, and Elkridge.