What is Drowsy Driving Prevention Week?

September 15, 2022 Criminal Defense, Drunk Driving/DUI

The beginning of September means it is once again Drowsy Driving Prevention Week in Florida. The week-long event has been designated by Florida Legislature to highlight the dangers of driving while tired.

We will provide details on Prevention Week and its origins, along with information on criminal charges for driving drowsy in Florida.

Florida’s Ronshay Dugans Act

Florida Statute Section 683.332 covers the Ronshay Dugans Act, which is the reason behind Drowsy Driving Prevention Week. Under the Act, the first week of September is designated to the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles and Department of Transportation in order for the Departments to educate the community and local law enforcement about the relationship between fatigue and driving performance. The weeklong event is meant to inform individuals about the dangers of driving while tired, which can be just as much of an impairment as driving under the influence of alcohol.

The Act was passed after the tragic death of 8-year-old Ronshay Dugans. Dugans was hit by a cement truck after the driver fell asleep at the wheel in September 2008. The Ronshay Dugan Act was passed by the Florida Legislature in 2010.

The Dugan family is in support of Prevention Week, and continuously speaks out on the dangers of drowsy driving:

“I pray that Drowsy Driving Prevention Week brings awareness to anyone who gets behind the wheel that didn’t get enough sleep. This week brings comfort to letting us know Ronshay’s spirit lives on when someone hears her story. If you have to turn the air up or drink coffee to stay awake, this is a sign of drowsy driving. Our family is asking motorists this week, and every week, to rest before traveling and if you are sleepy, utilize rest stops,” said Josie West, Ronshay’s aunt.

“The Dugans family will not stop promoting Drowsy Driving Prevention Week until laws are put into place to prevent drowsy driving all over the country. We want to make sure everyone is educated on just how serious the matter is. Again, no family should have to experience the pain of losing a loved one. We want Ronshay’s story to touch anyone that gets behind the wheel fatigued or drowsy,” was a statement from Ron Dugans, Ronshay’s father.

Drowsy Driving Prevention Week

Drowsy Driving Prevention Week was launched in 2010 by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV). Since its first year, Prevention Week has lasted throughout the first week of September. The goal of Prevention Week is to educate people on the dangers of driving while drowsy, along with helpful tips on safe driving. FLHSMV has estimated that, in the last year alone, there were around 3,991 reported car accidents that involved drowsy drivers.

“Whether you are driving a vehicle with two wheels or 18, driving while drowsy is a poor decision that can lead to deadly consequences,” said Colonel Gene Spaulding, the Director of the Florida Highway Patrol. “FHP strongly encourages all drivers to be alert when operating a motor vehicle and to take a break if they are having difficulty focusing, are yawning repeatedly, or are drifting into other lanes. Let’s all do our part to keep Florida roadways safe.”

The FLHSMV warns drivers of the negative side effects of fatigue, which can slow down a person’s reaction time and thought process. Fatigue can also affect a driver’s vision, judgment, and impair their senses and abilities. There is also the concern of “micro-sleeping” which is nodding off while driving or falling asleep completely at the wheel.

The following is a list of helpful tips from the FLHSMV for measures that drivers can take to prevent drowsy driving:

  • If you start to feel tired while driving, pull over somewhere and take a nap.
  • If you have another licensed driver in the vehicle, use the “buddy system” and take turns while driving.
  • Avoid driving late at night or during times when you know you are usually tired.
  • If driving for a long period of time, take a break every 100 miles or two hours.
  • Make sure to read the warning information on any necessary medication you are taking. Do not get behind the wheel and operate a vehicle if the medication says so.


Various partners across the state of Florida have come together to work with the FLHSMV for Drowsy Driving Prevention Week. Alix Miller, President and CEO of Florida Trucking Association, gave the following comment: “It’s important to learn the warning signs of drowsy driving—including yawning, missing your exit, or drifting from your lane—and make it a priority to take a break if you are not fully alert.”

The President of the Florida Sheriffs Association, Al Nienhuis, explained that the mission of the Florida Sheriffs is to, “protect the citizens we proudly serve. On behalf of the 67 Sheriffs in Florida, I wholeheartedly endorse the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles’ Drowsy Prevention Campaign this September.”

Chief Keith Touchberry of Fellsmere Police Department and President of the Florida Chiefs Association warned drivers of the dangers of driving while tired or drowsy. “Don’t get behind the wheel if you’re feeling drowsy, and be aware that some medications can make you drowsy,” he said. “This way, all of us can play our part in making our roads safer and saving lives.”

Michele Harris of Florida Public Affairs Director for AAA gave the statement, “You can’t control what other drivers do, but you can control being drowsy behind the wheel. Take steps to stay alert because it could save your life as well as the lives of innocent motorists.”

Potential Charges for Drowsy Driving in Florida

Driving while drowsy can be dangerous for everyone involved. Aside from potentially injuring yourself or others, there are criminal charges that a person can receive for driving while drowsy. The following is a list of potential charges that a person can receive for driving while fatigued:

  • DUI (this charge requires substances amounting to over the legal limit to be within the driver’s system)
  • DUI Manslaughter (this charge requires substances amounting to over the legal limit to be within the driver’s system)
  • Reckless Driving

The most severe charges are DUI and DUI manslaughter, which can result in expensive fines, imprisonment, and losing your driver’s license. It is possible to reduce the DUI charges down to a reckless driving charge. The best way to figure out if your DUI charges can be reduced, work with a skilled defense attorney in your area.

Finding a Defense Attorney in Tallahassee, Florida

If you or a loved one have been accused of driving while fatigued or under the influence of drugs or alcohol, it is imperative to seek out the legal advice of a skilled Tallahassee DUI defense attorney. Getting convicted of a DUI can lead to extremely serious consequences, especially if it is not your first offense. Don Pumphrey and his team at Pumphrey Law Firm have years of experience representing clients for various criminal charges. We are dedicated to defending the rights of our clients under any circumstance and fighting for their freedom. Call us today for a free consultation at (850) 681-7777 or leave an online message on our website.

 Written by Karissa Key

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