State v. S.N.R.

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Juvenile Law
  • Date Filed: 01-29-2014
  • Case #: A148495
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Nakamoto, J. for the Court; Armstrong, P.J.; and Egan, J.
  • Full Text Opinion

For a party to be found grossly negligent for falling asleep while driving, there must have been such prior warning that there was a likelihood they would fall asleep that continuing driving would constitute a conscious and reckless disregard of the possible consequences.

Defendant appealed the juvenile court's decision. While traveling southbound on the highway Defendant fell asleep and crossed into the northbound lane, striking and killing a motorcyclist. Defendant’s vehicle continued until hitting a tree on the side of the highway. The juvenile court found Defendant guilty of criminally negligent homicide. On appeal, Defendant contended that there was insufficient evidence to support the juvenile court's conclusion. Specifically, Defendant argued that there was not enough evidence to conclude that she consciously disregarded the risk of falling asleep while driving, that there was a substantial risk, and that she grossly deviated from the standard of care for a reasonable driver. The Court determined that de novo review was appropriate upon finding that the trial court relied on a significant error in the transcript of Defendant's recorded statements. Based on the facts and the corrected transcript, the Court held that though Defendant had some prior warning that she could fall asleep, such a warning was insufficient to allow her to react and find a location to safely pull over and hold her to a more culpable mental state beyond ordinary negligence. Defendant’s conduct while driving was not a gross deviation from a reasonable standard of care and her actions did not amount to criminally negligent homicide. Reversed.

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