To raise awareness about the dangers of drowsy driving, the National Sleep Foundation and the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles have declared this week Drowsy Driving Prevention Week. Experts claim that drowsy driving is an under-reported and under-recognized public safety issue. Only New Jersey has a law, known as Maggie’s Law, which criminalizes drowsy driving in fatal accident cases. Drowsy driving is a particularly important issue for college students and young adults, who have been found to generally be more sleep-deprived than the population at large.
Drowsy driving incidents can result in the filing of an immediate threat report by police. Once filed, this report results in the immediate suspension of the driver’s license. In most immediate threat cases, the driver must obtain medical clearance which includes the completion of various forms including the Registry’s Medical Clearance Form. The Registry is extremely diligent in making sure that drivers who are involved in accidents or other events which trigger immediate threat reports have been declared safe to drive by a licensed physician. In some cases, the Registry’s Medical Affairs Branch will schedule competency road tests.
Due to a lack of training regarding drowsy driving, police officers may mistake this for drunk driving or operating under the influence of drugs. Although drowsy driving is a danger, there is no law which specifically prohibits it. Instead, a driver who is found to be too tried to safely drive would likely be charged with operating so as to endanger, which is a criminal offense which will trigger a mandatory 60 day license revocation for a first offense and a 1 year license revocation for a 2nd conviction.