Cars that drive themselves no longer exist in futuristic sci-fi movies. These days, autonomous vehicles are propelling their passengers across highways around the world without much human interference. With over a million people who are arrested for driving under the influence each year, these driverless vehicles make you wonder if DUIs could soon become a thing of the past.
For some, having a robotic designated driver is the main purpose of a self-driving car, and it makes sense. At their best, machines are more alert, more skilled, and less error-prone than humans. When it comes to law enforcement, however, they might have a differing opinion.
How a DUI Works with Autonomous Cars
In order to better understand how DUI laws affect self-driving car owners and how DUI laws may be impacted in the future, you’ll need to understand the 6 levels of vehicle autonomy. They are:
- Level 0: Total driver control without assistance.
- Level 1: Minor forms of driver assistance, like cruise control and lane-keeping.
- Level 2: Partial driving automation, but the driver needs to be ready to take over at any given moment (think Tesla’s Autopilot).
- Level 3: Vehicle can perform most driving tasks, but human override is still required.
- Level 4: Does not require human interaction in most circumstances.
- Level 5: Completely autonomous and does not require human attention.
With an autonomy level of 3 or below—which is where most of our autonomous vehicles are sitting right now—a standard DUI will still apply as the driver needs to be ready to take over at any time.
Once autonomous vehicles start being introduced onto public roads that are above an autonomy level of 3, the laws will get a bit murkier. This is because when a car has an autonomy level of 4 or above, it will be much harder to prove if someone was actually controlling the vehicle while impaired.
Penalties for a DUI Charge in a Self-Driving Car in Florida
When it comes to driving under the influence, the state of Florida doesn’t play around. If you have been arrested for a DUI in Florida, whether or not you were in a self-driving car, you could face the following penalties:
- Up to $5,000 in fines
- Up to 5 years in prison
- Vehicle impoundment of up to 90 days
- Driver’s license revocation
- Enrollment in DUI school
- Arrested for driving under the influence
- 50 hours of community service
Once driving a car becomes fully autonomous and the experience becomes more akin to riding in a driverless monorail, DUI laws will probably change forever. However, for now, you’ll need to keep yourself awake and sober if you don’t want to be pulled over for riding in the driver’s seat of your Tesla.
Reach Out to an Experienced DUI Lawyer in West Palm Beach
When you’re arrested for driving under the influence, your reputation and criminal record are on the line. Don’t let a single mistake determine your fate. Attorney Brian Gabriel has over 30 years of experience defending West Palm Beach residents facing charges for DUI.
The Law Office of Gabriel & Gabriel is dedicated to representing you for any criminal matter. Call (561) 622-5575 or complete an online contact form to schedule a free consultation for your case today.