As we all wait for Tesla (and other companies) to launch fully operated driverless cars, it may make us wonder how self-driving cars will change our day-to-day lives. With a push of a button, we could be off to work every morning as we enjoy our breakfast completely hands-free from the wheel. We can take long road trips with friends and family without worrying about the GPS or its directions. Self-driving cars can also potentially change the laws of nations. Australia has already begun the process to change its laws to exempt people in self-driving cars to be convicted of DUIs and America is also seeking to revise laws to accommodate self-driving cars and DUIs.
Current DUI Laws
DUI (Driving Under the Influence) laws in America state that the driver must be in “actual physical control” to be convicted of a DUI. In order to determine if a person was actually driving the vehicle, the following factors must be considered:
- The location of the vehicle – was the vehicle on a roadway or parked?
- The location of the driver – was the person in the driver’s seat or elsewhere in the car?
- The location of the keys in the vehicle – were the keys in the ignition or out?
- The operability of the vehicle – was the vehicle in drivable condition?
How Can Self-Driving Cars Change The Law
When dealing with a self-driving car, the person inside the car is no longer in actual physical control of the vehicle which makes DUI law more complex than ever.
The computer software inside the car has full control and authority to drive the car to where it has been programmed to be driven to. If the person is no longer in control of the vehicle, they should not be convicted of DUI. However, some may argue that a person is still in control of the vehicle because they need to program the route in order for the car to reach its destination, making them in control. This grey area makes discerning DUI law difficult to understand and interpret.
As we eagerly wait for the first ever fully self-driving car, we can prepare for its coming by understanding how it may affect us and our national laws. In the meantime, we are still -without a doubt- in control of our vehicles and need to practice a high level of care whenever we are behind the wheel.