It is no secret that driving under the influence of alcohol or any other intoxicating substance is illegal. Generally, if you get caught driving under the influence of alcohol, you may be charged pursuant to Vehicle Code section 23152(a) VC, and driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher per Vehicle Code section 23152(b) VC.
So the question arises, whether you can still get a DUI conviction of you get caught driving Tesla in autopilot mode. Some may argue that the autopilot is engaged and the intoxicated individual is technically not driving the vehicle. However, this argument fails.
Most recently, on December 1, 2018, the California Highway Patrol arrested a man who fell asleep behind the wheel of his Tesla Model S while the car was driving down the road in autopilot mode. The arresting officer was having hard time pulling the vehicle over because the driving was passed out and under the influence. CHP officer managed to stop the self-driving Tesla by pulling in front of it and slowing down. The Tesla vehicle slowed and came to a stop. Officers were able to wake the drive and place him under arrest.
Further, there are other instance of drivers operating their Tesla vehicles in autopilot mode while drunk. In August 2018 a California man was arrested for driving under the influence after he crashed into a San Jose fire truck while driving in autopilot mode. Also, in early 2018, another driver was arrested on the same charge after passing out in his Tesla vehicle while it drove in autopilot mode across the San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge.
Though Tesla claims that its self-driving technology operates at a “safety level substantially greater than that of a human driver” it continues to instructs drivers to keep their hands on the wheel at all times in autopilot mode. The law also will hold you criminally guilty and civilly liable for driving drunk, even in autopilot mode.
Eventually, technology may advance to the point where we will rely on autopilots exclusively, and the law will surely adjust to the changing times; however, it is not that time yet.
Be safe! Do not drink and drive!
California law enforcement has been cracking down on DUI’s. Being convicted of a DUI can have serious implications on your life. The Choyce Law Firm is dedicated to fight your case and ensure any consequences are minimized if you are under the age of 21. Give us a call at (916) 306-0636 to speak to a Sacramento criminal attorney.
If you have been issued a citation, charged a DUI or another criminal offense your liberty, your name and your reputation are at stake. It is important that you consult with an experienced Sacramento criminal attorney at The Choyce Law Firm as soon as possible.
Call our firm at (916) 306-0636 today for a FREE consultation with our experienced Sacramento criminal attorney.
The Choyce Law Firm
1438 Del Paso Blvd
Sacramento, CA 95815