Negligence on the road takes various forms, including impaired driving due to alcohol or driver fatigue causing loss of control and poor judgment. Both of these negligent behaviors carries dangers, and understanding them is crucial.

If an impaired or drowsy driver has injured you, our experienced Michigan car crash lawyers can help you hold them accountable and pursue compensation.

The Prevalence and Impact of Drunk vs. Fatigued Driving

In 2021, 13,384 fatalities in the U.S. were attributed to drunk driving—that’s roughly one person every minute. That same year, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reported 544 deaths from alcohol-involved crashes in Michigan alone.

In 2022, Michigan reported 9,331 total alcohol-involved crashes and 322 fatalities. This accounted for 31.4% of total crashes in Michigan that year and 3.5% of deaths.

Drowsy driving was responsible for 684 deaths across the nation. An AAA study indicates that 16-21% of police-reported fatal crashes involve drowsy driving. Even more frighteningly, the CDC estimates that roughly 1 in 25 people have nodded off at the wheel in the past month, increasing the risk of fatigue-caused crashes.

Similar Symptoms of Drunk and Drowsy Driving

Driving under the influence of alcohol and while fatigued both exhibit signs that compromise a driver’s ability to operate a vehicle safely. Studies have found that after around 18 hours of being awake, a driver’s capabilities—such as reaction time, vigilance, and coordination—mirror those with a blood alcohol content of 0.05%.

This impairment escalates with prolonged wakefulness: 20 hours awake equates to a 0.08% blood alcohol level, the legal limit in most states, and 24 hours awake corresponds to a blood alcohol content of 0.1%.

Review this comparison of the similarities and differences between tired versus drunk driving:


Symptoms Drunk Driving Fatigued Driving
Impaired Judgment A common symptom—includes a reduced ability to assess situations and make sound decisions. This might occur—decision-making can be affected when tired.
Reduced Reaction Time Alcohol slows reflexes, delaying response time. Slowed responses due to fatigue are common.
Vision Issues Presents as blurred vision, difficulty focusing. Presents as heavy eyelids, frequent blinking, and trouble focusing.
Memory Impairment Short-term memory loss can occur. Drivers may forget the last few miles driven.
Swerving or Weaving This is a common symptom due to impaired motor control. Drifting from the lane or crossing the median is common.
Inattention Drivers may become easily distracted. Drivers may experience daydreaming or disconnected thoughts.
Aggressiveness Lowered inhibition can lead to aggressive driving. This is less likely, but may occur due to tiredness.
Microsleeps (brief episodes of sleep) This is not typical of drunk driving. A few seconds of sleep may happen, which is dangerous when driving.
Fluctuating Speed Inconsistent speed due to impaired focus is common. Unintentional speed variations due to drowsiness is common.
Difficulty Keeping Head Up This is not typical of drunk driving. Struggling to keep the head raised due to fatigue is common.

Liability Factors in Fatigued and Drunk Driving Accidents

Both drunk and fatigued driving can be considered negligent, as each indicates a failure to ensure the safety of others in the vehicle or on the road. However, when determining liability for a drowsy or drunk driving crash injury, the following factors may come into play:

  • Drunk driving: Drunk driving often has clear evidence like BAC tests, police reports, and eyewitness testimonies. Courts typically consider it an intentional and severe offense, leading to higher damage awards for personal injury cases.
  • Fatigued driving: Proving drowsiness can be more challenging than intoxicated driving. Insurance companies and attorneys might look into the driver’s activities before the accident, such as working a long shift or examining traffic footage. Though it’s still seen as negligence, fatigued driving is sometimes perceived as a mistake rather than a deliberate choice, which can impact the driver’s percentage of liability in a claim.

At Fieger Law, we offer skilled legal representation for victims injured in these types of vehicle accidents. For drunk driving cases, we carefully gather evidence, from BAC tests to firsthand witness accounts. We investigate the driver’s activities and behavior before the accident for suspected fatigued driving.

We often also consult with expert witnesses, including accident reconstructionists and medical providers, to understand what caused the crash and help you seek a fair payout.

Get the Settlement You Deserve with Fieger Law

Dealing with the repercussions of an accident, particularly one caused by someone else’s drunk or drowsy driving, can be overwhelming. You deserve representation that will fight for your rights and pursue the maximum compensation you’re entitled to.

The lawyers at Fieger Law are dedicated to safeguarding your rights. We have secured millions for auto accident victims. Contact us today and let us assist you in obtaining the settlement you rightly deserve.