CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Friday, December 7, 2012

Prosecuting "drowsy driving" cases

This article is from the New York Times:

A bus driver accused of being so tired that he caused one of the deadliest crashes in New York City’s history was found not guilty of manslaughter and negligent homicide on Friday, underscoring the difficulty of prosecuting drowsy driving despite successful efforts to use the courts to discourage other dangerous habits while at the wheel.

. . .

The trial, which started in late September and featured sometimes harrowing testimony from 55 witnesses, centered on the legal question of whether a driver can be proved to be too tired to responsibly get behind the wheel, an effort hampered by the lack of obvious measures like a blood-alcohol test for drunken driving or cellphone records for distracted driving.

. . .

The trial was followed closely by traffic-safety advocates who had hoped it would legitimize efforts to prosecute people who drive when they are dangerously tired. States have increasingly sought to move beyond purely educational efforts, with criminal cases against drowsy drivers in more than a half-dozen other states, including Florida, New Jersey and Texas. In Virginia last month, a judge convicted a bus driver of involuntary manslaughter after the authorities said he fell asleep before a crash that killed four passengers and injured dozens of others.

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