Massachusetts Senator Richard Moore Pushes for Law to Punish Sleeping Drivers Involved in Car Accidents

Massachusetts Senator Richard Moore has resumed efforts to hold drivers that fall asleep at the wheel accountable for their actions. He recently re-submitted a bill that would make sleeping while driving a more serious criminal offense.

Senator More first submitted “Rob’s Law” three years ago. The legislation followed the death of US Army Major Robert Raneri, who died in a 2002 motor vehicle crash when a teen driver who hadn’t slept for 24 hours crashed into Raneri’s vehicle. The driver got his license suspended for 10 years and served 5 years probation for Raneri’s death.

The National Sleep Foundation conducted a national poll in 2005. The poll found that 37% of adult drivers have fallen asleep while driving. 11 million people say they were nearly involved or were involved in a car crash because they lacked sleep.

Senator Moore wants a driver to potentially be charged with vehicular homicide if he or she causes a car accident while having been asleep at the wheel. A person convicted of vehicular homicide in Massachusetts could pay fines as high as $5,000 and as much as 15 years in prison. Sleeping drivers who injure other drivers on the road would also be held accountable with stiffer criminal sentences.

Rob’s Law stipulates that a sleep disorder expert be a member on the Registry of Motor Vehicles’ medical advisory board. Police would be able to bring sleep drivers into protective custody. Police would also be trained in monitoring drowsy drivers on the road.

Critics of the bill are not confident in the police’s ability to accurately figure out whether or not exhaustion or sleep was the reason a driver caused a car collision.

Drowsy driving is most likely to occur when:

• The driver is in the car alone.
• The driver is driving late at night.
• The driver is sleep deprived or exhausted.
• The driver is driving on a road where there aren’t many other cars.

Signs you might be sleepy while you are driving:

• You are having problems focusing on the road • You keep yawning • Your head keeps bobbing down • You feel sleepy • Your car keeps driving into the next lane • You can’t remember where you’ve been for the past few minutes
Bill would punish sleepy drivers, The Milford Daily News, October 14, 2007
Driving on the Edge — A Mobile Society on Too Little Sleep, Prescription for Sleep

Related Web Resources:

Massachusetts Senator Moore address at Sleep and Health Benefit Dinner, Sleep Medicine: Division of Harvard Medical School
National Sleep Foundation

If you have been arrested for a traffic violation or if you were charged in a car crash where someone was injured or died anywhere in Massachusetts, you should speak with one of our experienced criminal defense attorneys today. At Altman & Altman LLP we will protect your rights and make sure that we explore avenues of defense for you so the most favorable outcome possible is achieved. Contact Altman & Altman LLP today.

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