Driving under the influence often makes more headlines in California, but drowsy driving can be just as dangerous. There are many reasons people drive drowsy whether from a lack of sleep or the side effects of a medicine. While in many cases drowsy driving does not result in a criminal conviction, there are times when it can.

The California Vehicle Code Division 11 Chapter 12 Section 23103 defines reckless driving. Drowsy driving can be deemed reckless driving when a person wantonly or willfully disregards safety on the highway or an off-street parking facility. This applies to the safety of both property and other people.

If convicted, the offender of reckless driving can expect to pay a fine between $145 and $1000 or between 5 and 90 days in jail. In some cases, a judge may require the convicted to pay both the fine and spend time in jail for the offense. Since each case is different, there are not further guidelines for what to expect for those charged with reckless driving.

Reckless driving charges can escalate to manslaughter outlined in the California Penal Code Part 1 Title 8 Section 192. Unfortunately, not all drowsy driving accidents result in minor accidents with some resulting in fatalities. Manslaughter differs from murder because there is no malice in the killing of the other person.

Vehicular manslaughter involves gross negligence of operating the vehicle that resulted in the death of another often not resulting in a felony. However, those seeking financial gain by their actions may receive a felony charge. Drowsy driving that is reckless involving gross negligence for the safety of others can be a criminal offense.