Cars are becoming increasingly autonomous, starting first with cruise control, then with driver assistance features and now even with Tesla’s Autopilot. But none of these options make the vehicle fully autonomous and that means you still cannot drive drunk behind the wheel according to Del Mar drunk driving lawyer Peter M. Liss.
The Future is Coming
Google and other companies already have self-driving vehicles on the road, though they are not yet available to the public. Tesla’s Autopilot system can pretty much take over driving, but the company still says drivers should keep their hands on the wheel at all times and be alert. There’s no doubt that in a few years fully autonomous vehicles will be available to private persons. And when that happens, should those riding in the car be allowed to turn on the car and tell it where to go while they are drunk or should they be able to drink while in the car? Most people, even those who are most fervently against drunk driving agree that this should be legal and, in fact, could help get drunk drivers off the roads. But Solana Beach DUI attorneys point out that at this point in time, the laws will actually have to change to accommodate such behavior because right now, the law says that a person who controls a vehicle must be sober -even if that just means telling the car where to go.
More specifically, the current DUI statute prohibits someone from driving a vehicle with a BAC over .08 or if they are driving under the influence of another substance. The statute defines a “driver” as the person controlling the movement of the vehicle -so two people with shared control over the steering wheel can be found guilty. With a totally autonomous vehicle, the person may technically be in control of the vehicle in that he turns it on or off and tells it where to go, but he isn’t performing any mechanical functions of driving. As a result, the laws will have to be changed to reflect the new technology.
Where We’re at Now
Tesla’s Autpilot feature is impressive. It really can give the impression that the car can drive itself, but the car is not a self-driving vehicle and the Autopilot only works well for short stretches in specific conditions. So when someone who was pulled over with double the legal limit of alcohol in his system tried to tell the police that it was ok because the Tesla was in control, he was whisked right off to jail while his car was towed to the impound.
While the driver probably thought he was helping his cause with the defense, all he ended up doing was confessing to drunk driving, making it practically impossible for him to fight the charges. That’s why Mira Mesa DUI lawyers are so fervent about reminding people not to speak to the police when pulled over for drunk driving. Simply provide information about your identity, offer your license, insurance and registration paperwork when asked to do so and refuse to answer any questions.
If you are arrested for drinking and driving, Carmel Valley drunk driving defense attorney Peter M. Liss can help. Please call (760) 643-4050 or (858) 486-3024 to schedule a free initial consultation
Creative Commons Image by Andy Durst