Get Some Rest, Don’t Get Arrested

February 11, 2010

It’s no secret that maintaining healthy habits can save us money on health and life insurance, but in New Jersey doing so can also keep you out of jail, and it’s been that way since 2003.

What am I talking about?

There’s a law on the books in the Garden State that makes it illegal to sleep and drive. More specifically, the law prohibits motorists from knowingly operating their vehicles when impaired by lack of sleep.

How does this work?

Well, according to the Insurance Information Institute, New Jersey law equates sleepy driving with reckless driving. If you’re behind the wheel, and you cause an accident that results in a death, you can be charged with vehicular homicide, and be sentenced to fines plus up to ten years in jail.

That may sound like a stiff penalty for missing a little shut-eye, but the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has statistics pointing to falling asleep at the wheel as the cause of at least 1,500 deaths and 100,000 crashes every year. As well, the National Sleep Foundation has polling data showing that roughly half of all American adult drivers “drive while drowsy,” and about twenty percent have admitted to actually fallen asleep while driving.

Currently, New Jersey is the only state with a “Don’t Doze and Drive” law on the books.