The roads are a dangerous place, a fact more and more Americans are becoming increasingly conscientious of with all of the new distracted driving legislation taking place. A proposed bill in Louisiana, however, does not seek to stop drivers from texting while driving, chatting on the phone while driving or even from driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The state’s proposed legislation seeks to impose a law to prevent the most obvious of irresponsible driving behaviors: sleeping while behind the wheel.
Representative Jerry Gisclair brought this proposed bill in front of the Committee on the Administration of Criminal Justice. With the help of the Charpentier family, Gisclair successfully convinced the committee that sleeping drivers who kill someone in a car wreck should be eligible to face charges of involuntary vehicular homicide.
An offender found guilty of sleeping while driving and therefore involuntary vehicular homicide would face a maximum of 250 hours of community service and a two-year suspension of their driver’s license.
As mentioned earlier, the Charpentier family effectively supported Gisclair’s cause due to a related, tragic loss they have suffered because of a sleeping driver. They emotionally told the committee their story of the painful loss of their son who died when a trucker fell asleep behind the wheel and hit him. While the family does support Gisclair’s efforts to charge sleeping drivers more harshly, the victim’s father, Anthony Charpentier, still thinks the bill should demand tougher penalties for the crime.
The bill must now pass through the House floor in order to move forward. If passed as it is now written, the change in law would apply to drivers of cars, boats, trucks and aircrafts. Louisiana would only be the second state, after New Jersey, to enact sleeping while driving laws.