There are about 830,000 Teslas on the road. In June 2022, automakers reported that almost 400 crashes occurred in the U.S. involving vehicles with partially automated driver assistance systems, with 273 of them involving Teslas.
These accidents happened while the vehicles were in Autopilot, “Full Self-Driving” or Traffic-Aware Cruise Control mode, or another driver assistance system was being used to control the vehicle’s speed and steering.
The future of the legislation is uncertain, but as the law is written today, the driver is typically held liable for any accident while driving Tesla’s Autopilot if they have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level over the legal limit of 0.08%.
Even if you did not cause an accident but were pulled over while operating a Tesla on Autopilot, you can still be charged with a DUI.
The penalties for a driving under the influence (DUI) conviction can include fines, license suspension, jail time, vehicle impoundment, and you may be required to install an ignition interlock device. A criminal conviction can impact your education by making it impossible to qualify for student loans or housing. You may lose any professional licenses you have and your DUI may come up in future background checks when applying for new jobs.
If you are facing a DUI conviction, you should always speak to a criminal defense attorney, advises Law. ninja.
Autopilot Won’t Prevent You From Getting A DUI
Being drunk behind the wheel is still illegal even if you have a driver assistance system active. These systems are not meant to be fully autonomous or to replace an alert, engaged driver who can vigilantly monitor the car’s performance. Rather, they are intended to assist with driving and be a backup to human inattention. Even with this technology, getting into a Tesla while drunk is extremely dangerous.
Anyone driving one of these vehicles should be mindful that Tesla’s Autopilot has failed to notice pedestrians in the roadway or when the car was veering out of its lane. There have been calls for Tesla and other automakers to improve the technology behind these self-driving features to make vehicles safer.
Liability In DUI Accidents With Tesla’s Autopilot
This technology has brought up questions about liability in different state legislatures and other regulatory bodies. Should liability fall on the company that created the driver assistance technology, the individual driver, or the manufacturer of the vehicle?
Traditionally, car accident liability fell on an individual driver, an employer, or an automaker who designed and manufactured a car. Tesla introduced a new question: whether liability is with the designer of the AI system as well. Generally, if a drunk driver causes an accident, then they are held accountable for their breach of duty to drive safely.
Hire A Criminal Defense Attorney
You must hire an attorney as soon as possible if you have been pulled over and arrested for DUI. You should hire an attorney with years of experience in DUI defense who stays up-to-date with current legislation related to self-driving cars.
A DUI attorney can help you understand the specific charges that you’re facing, confidently navigate the complex legal system and develop a legal strategy to handle your case.