What is Maggie’s Law?

February 28th, 2024

photo of a drowsy driver yawning while driving

Are There Penalties Against Drowsy Driving?

Maggie’s Law, also known as the National Drowsy Driving Act, is a New Jersey law that imposes penalties on drivers who cause accidents while sleepy or tired. Specifically, any motorist who has gone without sleep for over 24 hours and caused a fatal accident can be charged with vehicular manslaughter, punishable by up to ten years in prison and a $100,000 fine. Currently, Arkansas is the only other state that has a law against drowsy driving.

Why and when did Maggie’s law come into effect?
This drowsy driving law is named after Maggie McDonnell, a 20-year-old college student who was killed in a car accident by a driver who swerved across three lanes and hit her car after he had been awake for 30 hours straight. Though the accident happened in 1997, Maggie’s Law came into effect in 2003 and aims to raise awareness about the dangers of driving while fatigued and to hold accountable those who cause accidents due to sleep deprivation.

Why is fatigued driving so dangerous?
The 24-hour mark is significant because, at that point, the level of impairment from sleep deprivation is equivalent to a 0.08 blood alcohol concentration (BAC), which is not just the legal limit in Pennsylvania and New Jersey but nationwide. It’s best to avoid drowsy driving as it can impair your reaction times, decision-making abilities, and overall cognitive function, increasing the risk of accidents.

What are the signs of drowsy driving?
A study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety estimated that 328,000 drowsy driving crashes occur annually. The prevalence of these crashes means you should be able to recognize the signs of drowsy driving to prevent accidents from happening. Common indicators include frequent yawning, difficulty keeping your eyes open or focused, drifting out of your lane, missing exits or traffic signs, and having trouble remembering the past few miles driven. If you experience any of these symptoms while driving, you must pull over to a safe location and rest before continuing your journey.

Stay Alert While on the Road

Unfortunately, dangerous driving habits are on the rise, with drowsy driving being one of them. Sharing these dangers with loved ones is crucial because it raises awareness and encourages accountability among family and friends. By openly discussing the risks of fatigued driving, individuals can better understand the importance of staying alert, prioritizing rest, and taking proactive measures to prevent accidents.

If you or a loved one was injured in a car accident due to sleep deprivation, contact the personal injury lawyers at Flager & Associates today by calling (215) 953-5200. We provide free case evaluations.

Adam Flager, Esq.Written by Adam D. Flager, Esq., Associate at Flager & Associates, PC

With his practice focused on litigation, Adam primarily represents clients in personal injury cases, such as motor vehicle, slip and fall, defective products, and construction and worksite accidents. He is licensed to practice in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the State of New Jersey, the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, the District of New Jersey, and the United States Court of Appeals, 3rd Circuit. Adam received his J.D. from Widener University School of Law in 2009, where he graduated with pro-Bono Distinction.

Contact Flager & Associates, PC

Located in Bensalem (across from the Neshaminy Mall), with offices in Philadelphia and New Hope, our law firm proudly serves injury victims throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Bensalem Office

One Northbrook Corporate Center
1210 Northbrook Drive
Ste. 280
Feasterville-Trevose, PA 19053

Phone: (215) 953-5200
Fax: (215) 953-5214

Philadelphia Office

1500 JFK Blvd
Suite 1450
Philadelphia, PA 19102

    Request a Free Case Evaluation!

    Let us represent you. Contact us today for a free initial evaluation with one of our seasoned personal injury lawyers.