Ask A Trooper: Can a tired driver be cited?

Published 4:41 pm Tuesday, December 14, 2021

By Sgt. Troy Christianson

Question: I called in a driving complaint on a possible drunk driver and received a call back and was told the driver was tired. Can the driver be cited for this?

Answer: Yes, the drowsy driver could be cited for inattentive driving and additional serious charges could be incurred if the drowsy driver causes a crash. A drowsy driver is an unsafe driver. Lack of sleep negatively impacts performance. It slows reaction time, impairs judgment, situational awareness and increases lapses in attention and risk taking. According to a study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, people who sleep six to seven hours a night are twice as likely to be involved in a crash as those sleeping eight hours or more. People sleeping less than five hours increase their risk four to five times.

Before hitting the road be sure to:

• Get a good night’s sleep. While this varies, the average person requires about eight hours of sleep a night.

• Schedule regular stops.

• Avoid alcohol and medications (over-the-counter and prescribed) that may impair your driving. Alcohol interacts with fatigue increasing its effects — just like drinking on an empty stomach.

While on the road be alert for warning signs of fatigue, for example, drivers who:

• Can’t remember the last few miles driven.

• Drift from their lanes or hit a rumble strip.

• Experience wandering or disconnected thoughts.

• Yawn repeatedly.

• Have difficulty focusing or keeping their eyes open.

• Tailgate or miss traffic signs.

• Have trouble keeping their head up.

If you recognize warning signs:

• Never count on the radio, open windows or use other “tricks” to keep them awake.

• Respond to symptoms of fatigue by finding a safe place to stop for a break.

Surviving the holiday season this year can be as simple as driving smart by staying alert, slowing down, paying attention, planning a sober ride and always buckling up.

If you have any questions concerning traffic related laws or issues in Minnesota send your questions to Sgt. Troy Christianson – Minnesota State Patrol at 2900 48th Street NW, Rochester MN 55901-5848. (Or reach him at, Troy.Christianson@state.mn.us)