The Atlanta DUI News Blog

Drowsy Driving Is Just Another Form Of Impaired Driving

Motorists cutting z's behind the wheel, even for just a split second, claim numerous lives each year. In fact 60 percent of adult drivers (or about 168 million people) said they have driven a vehicle while feeling drowsy at least once in the past year, according to a 2005 National Sleep Foundation poll.

What does this have to do with driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs? A Georgia DUI attorney probably won't be able to help you beat a reckless driving charge if your drug of choice is sleep-deprivation, but drowsy driving is not all that different from drunk driving.

A person who has been awake for 18 hours is just as impaired as a motorist with a blood alcohol level of between 0.05 percent and 0.10 percent, according to many researchers cited by the Sleep Foundation. But it's not clear if that also applies to someone who received a generous eight to 10 hours of sleep the night before or maintained alertness throughout day from regular trips to the local coffee shop.

Many of us can relate to the frightening phenomenon of actually falling asleep for a split-second only to "wake up" and realize you're behind the wheel of an automobile.

It's not driving under the influence, per se, but it's just as irresponsible. Sleepy or fatigued driving accounts for about 100,000 accidents in the US each year, resulting in 71,000 injuries and 1,500 deaths, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Some say state law, however, still has some catching up to do.

In its most recent report on drowsy driving, the National Sleep Foundation gave Georgia a "C-" grade for how law enforcement deals with drowsy drivers (PDF). On a positive note, at least from the organization's perspective, Georgia state law provides a police code for sleepy or fatigued driving.

Ask an Atlanta DUI attorney how drowsy driving may be similar to drunk driving.

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