A recent study from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration concluded that on a national scale, falling asleep behind the wheel of a car has caused 72,000 crashes - 44,000 injuries and up to 6,000 deaths. Drivers are expected to keep control of their vehicles at all times, so, in Illinois, if someone falls asleep at the wheel, they can at least be issued a traffic ticket. In cases where another person was hurt or killed by a drowsy driver, the offender will face felony charges.
Penalties that Result from Drowsy Driving
It is not safe to drive when you are tired. Drivers who do not only put themselves at risk, but also endangers the lives of others on the road or pedestrians walking along the side of the road.
This is why anyone who causes an accident while driving sleepily will face reckless driving penalties which in most cases means a Class A misdemeanor. There are some exceptions which make the charges felony offenses:
- Class 4 felony charges are given to those who drive recklessly in a school zone which causes bodily harm to a child and/or crossing guard.
- Class 3 felony charges are given to those who drive recklessly in a school zone which permanently disables or disfigures a child and/or crossing guard.
Both charges consist of heavy fines of up to $25,000 and jail time ( one to three years for Class 4 felony and two to five years for Class 3 felony).
Illinois law says that drivers could also face charges of reckless homicide if they unintentionally cause the death of another person. Reckless homicide is a Class 3 felony unless:
- The driver falls asleep in a school zone and hits a child and/or crossing guard. This offense will be a Class 2 felony punishable with a prison term of three to14 years.
- The driver falls asleep in a school zone and kills two or more people. This offense will be a Class 2 felony punishable with a prison term of six to 28 years.
- The driver fails to obey a police officer or traffic control worker in a construction zone. This offense will be a Class 2 felony punishable by a prison term of three to 14 years.
- The driver fails to obey a police officer or traffic control working in a construction zone and kills two or more people. This offense will e a Class 2 felony punishable by a prison term of six to 28 years.
How to Avoid a Drowsy Driving Accident
Drivers should be aware of their conditions before getting behind the wheel of a car. If someone feels fatigued in any way, they should not drive. Signs to watch out for are:
- Excessive yawning
- Blinking frequently
- Inability to remember events after they have happened
- Drooping eyelids
Anyone experiencing tired feelings should let someone more awake drive. Or, that person could take a nap before preparing to drive wherever they are going.
Contact an Elgin, IL Criminal Defense Attorney
Falling asleep while driving is something that could happen to anyone, but no one should have to face the consequences of what happens after. Especially not alone. The lawyers from the Law Offices of Brian J. Mirandola can help build a defensive strategy to protect offenders from a negative outcome in court. To schedule a free consultation with a Kane County criminal defense lawyer, call our office at 847-488-0889.