Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3), who sponsored “Maggie’s Law,” issued a statement today regarding charges filed against the driver who allegedly caused this weekend’s New Jersey Turnpike traffic accident involving actor Tracy Morgan. One person died in the crash and the driver stands charged with being behind the wheel while not having slept in over 24 hours:
“The driver is entitled to his day in court, but if these allegations are true, it is a startling reminder of why ‘Maggie’s Law’ was necessary in the first place,” Sweeney said. “The effects of sleep deprivation can be just as hazardous as those of drugs and alcohol. When people go without sleep and get behind the wheel, they are putting their lives and the lives of everyone they encounter on the road in danger.
“As the investigation into this crash continues, we hope for a full recovery for those still in the hospital. We also hope that out of this tragedy will come further examination and discussion on how we prevent people from driving sleep deprived.”
Signed into law in 2003, Maggie’s Law made it a crime for someone to knowingly get behind the wheel of a car if he/she has been awake for longer than 24 hours. Anyone doing so and causing a fatal car accident can be charged with vehicular homicide. Maggie’s Law originated in 1997 when 20-year-old Maggie McDonald was killed when a driver crossed three lanes of traffic and hit her car head on. The driver had been awake for over 24 hours.