The Fifth Column 

How Will Self-Driving Cars Change DUI Convictions?

How Will Self-Driving Cars Change DUI Convictions?

It’s a modern world, and self-driving cars are finally hitting the roads. Although self-driving cars aren’t commonly used by the general public yet, they could be a normal form of transportation in the not-so-distant future. If autonomous cars no longer use humans behind the wheel, it can raise some serious questions about driving laws and traffic-related offenses. Would an individual inside of a self-driving car still be held responsible if that car were to crash? In addition, would current DUI laws still apply to a situation involving a driverless car? Here is a look at how laws could change if self-driving cars become the new norm.

Putting the Key in the Ignition

Current driving laws don’t just apply to you when you’re actually driving the car. In fact, an individual can be charged with a DUI offense just for putting the key in the ignition and starting the car. Whether you are sitting in the driver’s seat or passed out in the bed of your truck, you can be charged with a DUI if your vehicle is running and you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In some areas, you can be charged even if you are just sitting in a parked car. If self-driving cars operate by themselves, should these same laws still apply? If the individual is just sitting in the car and not operating the vehicle in any way, these current laws wouldn’t make a lot of sense.

The Future of DUI Laws

There are no laws about DUI offenses in self-driving vehicles currently, as these types of cars are not readily available yet. When driverless cars become the norm, it is very likely that laws will change accordingly. It remains to be seen whether sitting in the front seat of a self-driving car while drunk or high could result in a DUI. If that person is considered to be in control of the vehicle in some way, it is likely that they would be held accountable. If the car is only partially self-driving and still requires the help of a human being, current laws will probably still very much apply.

Another issue to consider is what would count as driving in a autonomous car. Putting the keys into the ignition or pushing the dashboard button would probably be considered driving, as well as operating the GPS or handling the wheel while the car drives itself.

Driving Erratically in a Driverless Car

It is reasonable to expect that if a self-driving car is operating correctly, there would be no reason for the police to become suspicious and stop the car. If the car is working right, it won’t be driving erratically. For this reason, it is probably unlikely that a self-driving car would ever be pulled over. If the software malfunctions and the car does end up swerving, the person inside the vehicle could very well be held responsible for being under the influence because police won’t know if it was the fault of the car or the person.

Until the world sees self-driving cars on the road, there really is no definite way to know what DUI laws will apply. Lawmakers predict that current laws will change in accordance with self-driving cars, but how they change will depend on several factors.

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