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Self-driving cars were once a futuristic and technological advancement. Still, now that it has come to life, it’s not uncommon to encounter cars with autonomous capabilities worldwide. Many consumers have purchased vehicles with different levels of autonomy, such as driver assistance, conditional automation, or Tesla’s infamous auto-pilot system. Common questions many people have regarding these vehicles are who is responsible for violations in a self-driving car and if these violations are punishable in a courtroom.
In these cases, the supervising driver or owner is not absolved of the duty to drive while obeying traffic laws and concerning the safety of others. Consulting with an attorney may benefit you if you are given a traffic ticket or are facing charges for criminal offenses such as a DUI. At Dod Law, our criminal defense attorney represents and defends clients to lessen or dismiss traffic-related criminal charges and help better their future.
Self-Driving Car Violations: Does a Driver Have to Go to Court?
Fully automated self-driving cars are not available in public markets today. However, self-driving features and forms of automation such as hands-free steering, auto-pilot, and other features are available in many vehicles. However, drivers operating vehicles with these features are still expected and obligated by law to maintain their duty as drivers.
Types of violations you may encounter if not attentive in a vehicle with autonomous capabilities:
- Unsafe lane changes
- Reckless driving
- Running a red light
- Failure to stop at a stop sign
- Illegal U-turns
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
Even with driver assistance and autopilot capabilities, the driver present is expected to intervene when necessary. Anyone seated in the driver’s seat of a vehicle, whether capable of automation or not, must have a driver’s license and abide by all other traffic laws and regulations. Law enforcement officers can charge citations and fines or make arrests when necessary. You are still expected to resolve any tickets and charges with the court, and you are permitted to hire an attorney to help resolve any criminal charges.
Can I Be Charged With A DUI or Reckless Driving While in a Self-Driving Car?
Using an automated vehicle can be rewarding and exciting. However, it’s important to note that all drivers remain with the same responsibilities on the road as other drivers of traditional cars and transportation. In some cases, a driver may determine using an automated vehicle while under the influence may absolve them of the consequences of drunk driving. However, this remains false, and you can be arrested for DUI even while operating an autonomous car. If you are arrested for a DUI, reckless driving, or other criminal motor-vehicle-related offense, a skilled attorney may be able to help.
In some cases, law enforcement may determine self-driving car violations to be a form of reckless driving. Misunderstanding and misusing a vehicle’s capabilities may significantly lead to criminal charges when others are injured or seriously put at risk. For example, in a severe case, setting a Tesla into auto-pilot mode and sitting in the back seat of your vehicle instead of remaining in the driver’s seat may constitute a criminal charge.
Speaking with an attorney after a DUI or reckless driving arrest involving a self-driving vehicle may help you put your best foot forward. With a skilled attorney, you may avoid severe penalties or fines. At Dod Law, our legal team has helped many clients reduce charges and penalties and cleared charges for DUI and reckless driving cases in California.
Understanding the Future of Driver Liability in Autonomous Vehicle Operations
As technology advances and self-driving cars advance into fully-autonomous vehicle settings, laws and regulations may change regarding a driver’s legal responsibility and liability in using these cars. However, drivers are still responsible for intervening and using self-driving capabilities within lawful means.
California’s autonomous vehicle regulations include the following:
- Self-driving vehicles may be tested on public roads as long as they meet the safety standards of the highway patrol.
- The Contra Costa Transportation Authority is permitted to test self-driving cars for efficient and safe driving on public roads.
- The California Department of Transportation must use a portion of its budget for EVs and self-driving cars regarding infrastructure.
- Testing self-driving cars are only permitted with a licensed operator and less than 100 feet between them.
If you have been arrested or charged with car violations while using autonomous car capabilities, our legal team may be able to help you. We work diligently to help our clients resolve DUI cases, misdemeanors, and felonies. Whether you have been charged with car violations or failed to act responsibly within your means, we look forward to helping you review your case and determine how we may defend you in a courtroom.
Speak With Criminal Defense Attorney Dod Ghassemkhani for Experienced Legal Counsel
In self-driving cars, the supervising driver is still responsible for obeying traffic laws and intervening at any point to maintaining their driving responsibilities. Facing fines and jail time for a criminal offense from a car violation on the road can be challenging. When facing charges such as reckless driving or DUI while using an autonomous vehicle, speak with our attorney, Dod Ghassemkhani, at Dod Law to review your case and determine the next best steps in resolving the matter. To schedule a free consultation, complete a contact form or call us at (619) 814-5110 to speak with our team.