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Can a Self-Driving Vehicle Be a Designated Driver?

Automotive technology has become so advanced that driverless vehicles are now inevitable and the modern vehicle. And that prompts loads of queries about having no human driver. Among them: Will you be able to drink alcohol while your autonomous vehicle drives down the street?

Many people believe that having an electronically designated passenger would be the whole purpose behind self-driving motor vehicles. At their best, computers/electric vehicles are more cautious, more attentive, less distracted drivers, less dangerous drivers, and better-designated drivers than human beings. Companies all over the world are trying to improve these qualities for self-driving motor vehicles. Call a DUI attorney in Chicago for more questions today and receive a free consultation!

Most State Definitions of DUI

Once self-driving cars become ubiquitous, DUI laws may radically shift. If they're so automated that driving them is like riding a driver-free monorail or airport shuttle, then designated drivers won't be considered operators, and everyone will be allowed to drink freely during their rides. DUIs will be obsolete.

person in a self drivng car, Self-Driving Vehicle Be a Designated Driver

Drunk-Drivers are often charged under different legal titles depending on where they're arrested. For example, in Michigan, OWI is considered a misdemeanor; in New York, DWI is considered a felony; in Oregon, DUII is considered a misdemeanor; and in California, DUI is considered a misdemeanor. All states define what it means to "drink" or "operate" a car while intoxicated or impaired. Most state laws require that the driver be behind the wheel and do something to control the car. For example, if the car is moving and someone is doing anything to steer or brake the motor vehicle, then they're operating it.

We'd expect that the designated driver operating an autonomous vehicle wouldn't be driving themselves, but instead would be passengers, communicating to the vehicle where they want to go and possibly having preferences for routes to take.

Illinois Drunk-Driving Laws

  • If you the designated driver convicted of drunk driving, you could face up to one year in jail and be fined up to $2,000.
  • If the designated driver is convicted for a second time within five years of the first offense, the offender must spend at least five days in jail or perform 240 hours of community labor.
  • If you commit a second, third, or fourth DUI within five years of a previous one, you've been convicted of an Aggravated Driving Offense (ADO) and are now facing penalties of up to 7 yrs in prison/or a $25K fine. You're penalty increases if your blood alcohol level was.16 or higher at the time of the arrest.
  • If you the designated driver are caught driving under the influence of alcohol, you could be charged with a Class X felony, which carries penalties ranging from 6 to 30 years in prison and up to $25K in fines. Penalties increase if your blood alcohol content (BAC) is.16 or higher.

Actual Physical Control

It is not clear if operating a motorized device (e.g., a car) while under the influence of alcohol or drugs constitutes a violation of state law. However, some jurisdictions define “operate” broadly enough to include merely sitting behind the wheel of a moving automobile. For example, California defines “operating” a motorized device as “the physical act of manipulating any part of the machinery, including turning the ignition key, putting the transmission into drive, adjusting the seat position, or engaging the parking brake.” Other jurisdictions may use different definitions.

Illinois: In State v. Cummings, 176 IlL App. 3d 293, the Illinois Appellate Courts also rejected a definition of "actual physical control" which would have prohibited intoxicated individuals from driving their cars into their homes to "sober up."

FAQ: How much does a DUI lawyer cost?

The appellate judges stated, "We can expect that most drivers know, as they leave a bar or party, that they risk serious penalties if they get behind the wheel. While the preferred response might be for them to stay out of trouble or plan better, this is not always possible. And while we can state that these folks should have stayed sober or made better plans, that doesn't really solve the problem.

For the intoxicated driver who has been arrested after driving away from an accident scene, we believe it would be preferable to allow judges to consider whether the defendant was further advancing the goal of safe roads by voluntarily "sleeping it off" in his car, and if so, whether he intended to move the car. A designated driver's setup for the remote operation looks similar to a driving video game, including multiple high-definition screens displaying a live camera feed from inside the car, a control panel resembling a dashboard, brake and accelerator pedals, and even a turn signal lever, which activates the same car functions as if they were operating the car themselves.

The new system uses a combination of sensors and cameras to detect objects and people in its path. It then communicates with vehicles ahead of using wireless communication systems. A designated driver is tackling an important problem as autonomous cars are approaching a commercial launch for the very first time. "The market need" for Designated Drivers is really important because it will help people adopt autonomous vehicles."

person with keys and shot glasses in front of them, Self-Driving Vehicle Be a Designated Driver

Our solution includes an in-vehicular software package," says Designated Driver CEO Walter Sullivan. "It's part of our overall system architecture." For now, the designated driver uses a bank of six monitors that displays the feeds from various camera systems mounted on the vehicle and a map of the surrounding area.

Self-Driving Cars are Currently in Their Infancy Stage

Google’s autonomous vehicle program began in 2009, and they have had a lot of success with their vehicles. They have tested their cars in California, Arizona, Nevada, Michigan, Washington State, and Florida. In addition, they have tested their cars in cities such as Mountain View, San Francisco, Austin, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Kirkland, Seattle, Portland, and Toronto. They have also tested their cars in places such as highways, parking lots, and city streets.

As of the start of 2017, Tesla is clearly ahead of the pack when it comes to self-driven vehicles. Other car manufacturers have introduced adaptive cruise control systems and Jaguar Land Rovers have introduced electronic steering assist systems, but there are currently no other manufacturers offering cars with fully autonomous capabilities. It seems that most people think that Tesla’s autopilot technology is the world’s s first fully autonomous driving technology for actual consumers.

Related Content: Questions to Ask a DUI Lawyer in Chicago

When Autonomous Vehicles Become Commonplace, Will There Be Any DUI Laws?

Self-driven cars can handle these problems better than humans can. But if the car is only driven by humans 1% of the time, then the passengers will get used to having someone else behind the wheel. When an emergency arises, the passengers will panic and try to take control of the vehicle. This could lead to accidents and injuries. Legislators and safety experts will realize this. Therefore, expect to be riding in a self-driven car for a very long period of your life. Expect not to be able to consume alcohol while riding in one.

Contact an Experienced DUI Lawyer Today

For more information. on DUI laws and DUI laws with self-driving cars, contact a lawyer at Chicago DUI Defense today. Call them at (312)800-1626 for a free case review today.

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