In the State of Florida, “drowsy driving” in relation to auto accidents refers to times when an auto accident was caused by the driver being excessively tired and sleepy.
Florida passed the Ronshay Dugans Act (F.S. 683.332) in 2010 to officially designate the first week in September as “Drowsy Driving Prevention Week.” During this time, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) and the Florida Department of Transportation (DOT) engage in a joint effort to inform Florida citizens about the dangers of drowsy driving.
According to the law, drowsy driving can impair a driver’s ability to make decisions and maintain coordination as much if not sometimes more than alcohol impairment. Also, according to a 2015 Florida DHSMV website article, 14 fatal vehicle crashes in 2014 were attributed to drowsy driving.
Although Florida sanctions public-funded education programs through the Ronshay Dugans Act, they do not have explicit laws regarding the criminal or culpably negligent nature of drowsy driving.
If an individual was aware of their drowsy condition and still chose to drive, they could be considered to have acted negligently. A personal injury or wrongful death tort against them would have to prove that the individual had knowledge of their impairment, such as having experience with a medication that makes you drowsy yet choosing to drive after taking it anyway.
Proving the level of fatigue of the individual or the negligence of their decision-making process may not be as clear as other impairment cases. Unlike DUI laws, for example, there is no way to measure or limit “units of tiredness” compared to Blood Alcohol Concentrations (BAC). Yet, injury or wrongful death victims of drowsy driving accidents have a right to pursue rightful compensation from individuals who make irresponsible decisions that endanger the lives of others.