Law & Legal & Attorney Traffic Law

Laws on Driving Drowsy in Michigan

    • Driving while drowsy can have serious consequences under Michigan law.Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images

      Driving when sleep deprived is when a person operates a motor vehicle while being impaired by a lack of sleep. Driving while drowsy can be incredibly dangerous. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that driving drowsy contributes to more than 100,000 crashes annually, including 40,000 injuries and 1,550 deaths every year, resulting in $12.5 billion in economic losses. The Michigan Vehicle Code does not specifically prohibit driving a vehicle while impaired by a lack of sleep. However, the significant impairment of cognitive abilities commonly associated with driving while drowsy can result in violating provisions of the Code.

    Driving Infractions

    • Driving while drowsy can result in impaired driving that violates several provisions of the Michigan Vehicle Code. For instance, running a red light constitutes a civil infraction with a mandatory $150 fine. Driving on the wrong side of the road, whether that road is a one way road or a highway is also a civil infraction, with a fine of between $110 and $140 at the sentencing judge's discretion. Exceeding the posted speed limitations is another civil infraction that is typically associated with driving while drowsy. While the fines for excessive speeding vary by the amount of speed traveled over the posted speed limit, the fines for speeding can be in excess of $150.

    Dangerous Driving

    • When a person drives while drowsy, they are more likely to operate their vehicle in a dangerous manner. The Michigan Vehicle Code prohibits the careless, negligent, or reckless operation of a vehicle. Careless or negligent driving is the operation of a vehicle in a manner "likely to endanger any person or property." The penalty for careless or negligent driving is a civil infraction punishable by a fine up to $200. Reckless driving is the operation of a vehicle "in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property," and can include speeding, failing to yield to other vehicles, and cutting in and out of traffic. Reckless driving is a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum sentence of 93 days and a maximum fine of $500.

    Moving Violations

    • Driving while drowsy is a major factor in over 40,000 injuries every year. Michigan law provides that a person who commits a moving violation that causes the death of another person is guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by a maximum sentence of 1 year imprisonment and a maximum fine of $2000. Michigan law also provides that a moving violation which causes another person to suffer serious impairment of a bodily function is guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by a maximum sentence of 93 days and a maximum fine of $500. A person charged with either of these misdemeanors may be charged with other violations of the law.

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