Mortal sin/driving while tired

Last night around 9:50 p.m. I took a prescription Xanax (.5 mg) because I suffer from OCD/scrupulosity and anxiety. At 7:50 a.m. I left to go out of town to go to Confession. I thought that 9 hours would be enough time for the medicine to leave my body so I could drive. I woke up tired but still planned to go. I had a cup of coffee and pulled out of the garage thinking, “I hope I’m not too tired to drive. I think I’m okay.” I started to turn down the wrong street before I even got out of town–but realized it quickly and got back on track. Then I thought, “I hope I didn’t make that mistake b/c I’m too tired to drive.” But then I dismissed it b/c I often turn down that street to go to my own parish and I often make mistakes if I have something on my mind. So I got on the highway and thought, “I am kind of tired. Maybe I should turn back.” But I really wanted to go to Confession. I know the catechism says that driving recklessly or while impaired is a mortal sin, but I wasn’t falling asleep or anything–just a little tired. I’m still not sure if this was a mortal sin, but next time I will either wait a full 12 hours after taking the med before I drive or I won’t take it at all. I’ve read SINCE my confession today that Xanax should lose its effects after 6-8 hours. I waited 9 hours. Does this sound like a mortal sin?

The reason I’m asking here is b/c I forgot to ask the priest if it was mortal or venial b/c I was also concerned about other sins I had. I’d like to know for my own knowledge in case I feel tired on the road again. Now if I were falling asleep, I would have pulled over and got out and walked around the car or something, but I wasn’t THAT tired. I just worried “WHAT IF” I was a danger to someone? But I wasn’t sure.

To me WHAT If is a disease we all need to get rid of. TO ME your assessment was good and what to do if you got really tiered was spot on. If driving Tiered was a sin we all are going to Hell. Driving impaired is a lack of love to your neighbor. Driving tiered is a fact of life. You did not describe impaired.

Tell Jesus you Love him and go to bed.

Veronica, my opinion is that the devil would like to keep us away from confession.

Now you know, after checking the literature that the drug should have been out of your system 8 hours after you took it. Check on days when you aren’t planning on going anywhere if this is in fact the case for you. Then, if this happens again, take all the steps you took, plus say to yourself, I know I’m not feeling sleepy from my medication and I am going to confession. If you can concentrate on praying the Rosary while you drive, do that - sometimes I can and sometimes I absolutely can’t - otherwise play a CD of the Rosary, or of Christian music.

If you really are tired and sleepy and unable to concentrate on driving then you shouldn’t because you are a danger to yourself and other road users. I’m lucky that we have abundant taxis where I live and I use them if I think I’m too tired to drive safely to Mass.

Taken from a very reputable book from the 19th century called The Way of Interior Peace by Fr. Lehen, pg. 99:

“To a mortal sin belong three points: 1st. Weighty matter; – a jesting lie, for example or a vain, self-conceited thought, is not sufficient for a mortal sin. 2d. Full knowledge of the evil; that is, the deliberate consciousness that what one does is a mortal sin. This excludes all cases in which the sin proceeds from surprise, or in which the soul is not full master of her powers; as, for example, in half-slumber, and the like. 3d. Full consent of the will to that which the understanding knows to be mortal sin. As long as the consent remains imperfect, or we are conscious of a certain hesitancy, a deferring, or a reproach of conscience in consequence of our neglect in combating the temptation, the sin is only venial.”

I hope this helps.

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