We have been obsessed with self-driving cars in science fiction stories for decades. The ability to read a book or use your laptop or mobile phone while the car drives itself is an attractive idea, but what about the impact they could have on drunk driving? This is obviously a novel concept that could allow us to make it home safely after a party, but how far off is this from becoming reality?

Drunk driving claims thousands of lives, injures more every year and many more are convicted of a DUI. Many people have taken to the idea of self-driving cars as a potential way to lessen these statistics. However, despite the promise of self-driving cars, they are not quite there yet.

At Kelly Cardon & Associates, we strive to help make Utah’s roads safer. While we can help you build a strong defense if you are charged with a DUI, the best way to avoid one is to not drive while intoxicated. Call us or refer a loved one for a consultation on DUI defense.

Today’s Self-Driving Cars

Today’s self-driving cars aren’t quite ready to hit the open road commercially, yet. Although, Google and other companies claim to be only a few years away from this.

There are several states that have passed legislation allowing self-driving cars on their roads. California, for example, requires there to be a licensed driver in the vehicle at all times in order for it to be legal. While there have been surprisingly few accidents with self-driving cars, the legislation mandates a licensed driver in case of an emergency where it would have to be driven manually.

If the occupant of the self-driving car were to be intoxicated, in the case of an emergency, an accident could occur. Additionally, if the car were to be pulled over by an officer, which has happened in California already, the occupant would then be charged with a DUI even though he or she was not actually driving.

Tomorrow’s Self-Driving Cars

Many argue that in order for self-driving cars to have an impact on DUIs, there needs to be improvements made to our infrastructure. Right now, our roads are not in any condition to handle self-driving car traffic. By making our infrastructure smarter, self-driving cars could impact DUIs greatly. Issues that need to be worked out with self-driving cars, include software and communication issues, and even current technological limits will need to be worked on in order for self-driving cars to decrease the DUI death rate.

Additionally, there is the potential issue of how self-driving cars will be able to interact with manually operated vehicles when they begin hitting the road. What will self-driving cars do if a non-self-driving car is operated by a drunk driver and runs the autonomous vehicle off the road? Will the vehicle be able to compensate and avoid a life threatening collision?

Also, in the case of accidents today, there is usually a driver at fault. But with self-driving cars, if a problem arises, who will take the blame? The occupant of the car wouldn’t be at fault and if the other vehicle is self-driving as well, that occupant wouldn’t be either.

The responsibility would then have to fall on the manufacturer of the car, even if the occupant was intoxicated. This could mean self-driving cars are further away than we imagine, as manufacturers will surely want their products to be flawless to prevent litigation. In short, self-driving cars can and will impact DUIs, but not yet.

Contact Kelly Cardon & Associates Today

Until self-driving cars are perfected, we will still have to find a way home from the bar or after party. It is always recommended that you call a taxi, ride service or utilize a designated driver in these circumstances. However, if you have been charged with a DUI, we at Kelly Cardon & Associates are here to help. You can contact us for a free case analysis, or give us a call 24/7. Salt Lake City residents can call us at 801.328.1110 while residents of Northern Utah can contact us at 801.627.1110.