The difference, or lack thereof, between drowsy and drunk driving

Imagine for a moment that you go out to your favorite bar and have a couple of alcoholic beverages. When the evening is over, you head to your car and drive off. During your trip home, you are pulled over by a police officer who inquires about your sobriety. Ultimately the officer gives you a breath test on the side of the road, and it comes back that your blood alcohol content is 0.10. You are arrested and you are subjected to numerous serious penalties in the following months.

Now imagine a similar scenario where you go to your favorite bar, but instead of alcoholic beverages, you just drink water. However, you had to work a very long shift today, and as a result you are very tired. You get in your car and drive off. During your trip home, a police officer pulls you over. The officer notes you are not intoxicated, but that your fatigued state made you swerve a little bit — thus why he pulled you over. The officer let’s you go with a warning.

The dramatic difference in how these situations are handled — and how they play out many times on Americans roads — is one of the problems with the way we treat drunk drivers. Drowsy drivers have similar abilities and problems to that of a driver with a blood alcohol content of 0.08, according to a study published in the Accident Analysis and Prevention Journal.

And yet a drowsy driver isn’t severely punished. The drunk driver may have his or her life ruined by a DUI charge.

We aren’t asking for drowsy drivers to be punished further. But what we are doing is calling attention to an issue relating to criminal defense, and also pleading for a little more common sense when it comes to the way we dole out punishment when it comes to drunk driving.


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