Jersey Assembly sends ‘Maggie’s Law’ to governor

| 6/27/2003

The New Jersey Assembly approved a measure June 23 that would permit prosecutors to charge drivers who kill another person after falling asleep behind the wheel with vehicular homicide, according to local media.

S1644, which previously passed the Senate, now heads to Gov. James McGreevey for his approval.

Under the bill, motorists in the Garden State who drive after going without sleep for more than 24 hours and cause the death of another driver could be charged with vehicular homicide, Philadelphia’s KYW TV reported. The tired driver could spend up to 10 years in prison and a $100,000 fine.

Currently, driving fatigued in New Jersey is not a crime, even if the drowsy driver’s vehicle kills someone else. Under S1644, operating a vehicle in a sleep-deprived state would be considered reckless driving.

The bill’s sponsor, Sen. George Geist, R-Clementon, said in a statement that “Maggie’s Law” is named for Maggie McDowell, a 20-year-old college student from Gloucester County who was killed in 1997 by a driver who fell asleep at the wheel. The man received a $200 ticket.