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Unmasking Drowsy Driving: The Unseen Cause of DUIs and DWIs 

You may believe the only way you can get pulled over by the police for drunk driving is because you drank too much alcohol before getting behind the wheel. But falling asleep while driving — or even just being too drowsy to make clear and quick decisions — can lead to getting pulled over or worse. 

Drowsy drivers account for an estimated 328,000 crashes every year, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic. About 6,400 of those end with a death. Even though getting on the road when you’re sleepy isn’t a crime on its own, it can be the root cause of dangerous and illegal driving behaviors. 

Driving when you’re sleepy can decrease your motor functions and lower your reaction time to the point that you may even be mistaken for being under the influence. You could end up in an accident or with a DUI, which drives up your premiums and may lead you to need SR-22 insurance. Understanding the dangers of driving drowsy can help you stay safe on the road and keep your insurance prices down. 

Understanding Drowsy Driving and Its Risks 

Operating a car requires you to be alert, focused, coordinated, and ready to react to other drivers on the road. When you’re drowsy, your ability to make decisions is weakened, and your reaction time is slowed, which can make it harder to stay alert on the road. For example, you may begin weaving in and out of your lane or be unable to stay at a safe speed. You may also have trouble recognizing when you need to brake, which could ultimately cause a crash related to sleepiness. In serious cases, you may even fall asleep behind the wheel and lose control of your car. 

Drowsiness increases the risk of an accident and can also get you into legal trouble. If a police officer feels you are not driving safely, you may get pulled over, which could lead to a ticket or even a reckless driving charge. 

The Thin Line Between Drowsy Driving and DUI/DWIs 

Many people don’t realize that being tired has some similarities with being intoxicated, so it’s helpful to compare drowsy driving to drunk driving. If you’re really tired, you might have trouble paying attention on the road, driving the speed limit, and staying in your lane. All these issues can be signs of driving drunk, so an officer might think you’ve been drinking when you drive by. Plus, physical signs of being drunk, such as bloodshot eyes or confusion, can also be signs of tiredness. 

If an officer believes that you’re under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you may end up with a DUI or DWI charge — even if you were completely sober. Getting mistakenly charged with a DUI is unlikely due to the use of breathalyzer tests, but it’s important to be aware of the possibility. 

Operating a car while tired isn’t a crime on its own, like driving under the influence. However, breaking traffic laws can result in a ticket, no matter the cause. If you end up speeding or accidentally veering into an oncoming lane because you’re too tired to focus, an officer might still pull you over and give you a ticket. 

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The Impact of Drowsy Driving on Your Record and Insurance 

Insurance companies base your premium on several factors, including your history as a driver. That means that your rates could go up after any sort of traffic violation, including a ticket related to sleepy driving. Thankfully, many states have defensive driving programs that you can use to keep minor tickets off your record. By taking the course, you’ll be able to prevent your insurance rates from increasing. 

If you get convicted of a more serious charge, such as reckless driving, things get a bit more complicated. You can expect your insurance costs to go up for at least a few years, even if you take a responsible driving course. Similar to getting insurance after a DUI, it can be harder to find an affordable policy if you have a reckless driving charge on your record. Thankfully, some insurers help find affordable rates for people with imperfect records. 

Does Drowsy Driving Necessitate an SR-22? 

In most states, you need to submit proof of SR-22 insurance after being convicted of a DUI. But does it work the same way for sleepy drivers? The answer can vary. 

Typically, you only need to file an SR-22 if you get convicted of a serious traffic charge. If you only get a ticket for something small like speeding or failure to yield, you don’t need to worry about an SR-22. But even if you are convicted, you still might not need to file. For example, some states only ask you to submit an SR-22 if you get your license revoked or restricted after multiple offenses. Be sure to check your state’s laws to understand your local requirements. 

Tips To Prevent Drowsy Driving and Protect Your Record 

The best way to keep sleepiness from affecting your record is by avoiding getting on the road when you’re tired. That starts with getting enough rest when you know you need to drive. When taking long trips that can cause you to get sleepy and fatigued, take regular breaks to give your eyes and brain time to rest and recharge. 

Teen drivers and people who work long shifts usually have the highest risk of getting sleepy on the road because of their more random sleep patterns. So, if you’re young or have a job that keeps you out late, take special care to stay alert while you drive. You may also wonder, what type of driver is least at risk for drowsy driving? Along with being well-rested and making short trips, having someone else in the car with you is the best way to fight off drowsiness on the road. Even if you’re a bit tired, the other person in your car can keep you alert. 

Navigating Insurance After a Drowsy Driving Incident 

If you get into an incident related to being tired on the road, you don’t have to stress. Although you may have to deal with an increase in your premiums, the right insurance carrier can help you find the best deals and keep your rates low. At SR-22 Adviser, we specialize in helping high-risk drivers find the right insurance. Discover how you can keep both yourself and your vehicle covered by contacting our partner for an online quote today. 

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