Can You Be Drunk in a Self-Driving Car?

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Today’s drunk driving laws assume that drivers are totally responsible for controlling their vehicles, placing blame solely on them if their cars cause an accident. With currently available self-driving car technology, drivers must still closely monitor vehicle operation when these systems are engaged.

If the autonomous driving features of self-driving cars don’t perform properly, the driver has to take control of the vehicle immediately. Because constant readiness is required, drivers must still adhere to current traffic laws. Operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is illegal, even in the self-driving cars that are available today.

If you sustain injuries in a wreck caused by a drunk driver, the Mike Morse Law Firm can help.

What Is a Self-Driving Car?


We’ve all seen movies featuring cars that don’t have drivers. Although that level of technology isn’t yet available to consumers, the time is fast approaching when fully automated cars will travel U.S. roads in abundance.

A self-driving car uses artificial intelligence and various cameras, sensors, and radar to operate independently, without human involvement. Automated technologies are developing rapidly, but consumers cannot buy cars with completely autonomous capabilities yet.

The Society of Automotive Engineers classifies self-driving cars according to their degree of automation.

Level 0 – No Automation

Most cars on U.S. roads today are in this category. Drivers maintain total control of their vehicles, although these cars can include some driver support features. These include lane-keeping assistance, automatic braking in emergencies, blind-spot warnings, and collision warnings.

Level 1 – Driver Assistance

Drivers are responsible for their level one vehicle’s safe operation. These cars can either feature adaptive cruise control or steering assistance, but drivers must be ready at all times to assume control.

Level 2 – Partial Driving Automation

Level two vehicles combine driving assistance features and can accelerate, steer, and brake autonomously in limited instances. A few automakers offer level two vehicles today. Drivers must be engaged and alert so they can take control of these cars if needed.

Level 3 – Conditional Driving Automation

This technology isn’t available to the public in the U.S. yet. Level three technology allows the car to drive itself when systems are engaged. Drivers are still required to be immediately available to take over vehicle operation.

Level 4 – High Driving Automation

These cars don’t need a human driver. Travel routes can be programmed and contained within specific boundaries, and these cars will stop themselves if there is a system failure. Severely inclement weather conditions may limit level four vehicle operations.

Drivers can still override level four vehicles to take control if they have manual control equipment.

Level 5 – Full Driving Automation

Level five vehicles can drive autonomously anytime, anywhere, in any conditions. All occupants are passengers. When these cars become available, all passengers can drink.

Are Self-Driving Cars Legal?


Individual states have the right to determine the use of self-driving cars within their borders. Many states currently allow testing, while others authorize deployment.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration plans to keep a close eye on driverless technology to ensure that automakers meet safety standards. On March 10, 2022, the NHTSA updated Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards to include cars without manual controls that rely on automated driving technologies.

Americans can expect to see new laws pass as automated driving technology becomes more widespread in the next few years.

What Levels Are Available Today in the U.S.?


The general public can currently purchase cars with up to level two technology in the U.S., although some manufacturers are awaiting regulatory approval for cars with level three systems and hope to release them later in 2022.

A few cities in the U.S. currently allow level four driverless cars to operate as taxis for the general public in specific areas. Testing is taking place in other areas as well.

What Are Common Causes of Car Accidents?


For self-driving cars, things like hacking into self-driving car systems and software glitches may cause accidents. However, human error is still involved with automated driving features up to level three and potentially into level four.

Driving While Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs

Alcohol and drugs impair judgment and delay driver reaction times, often causing accidents. Even some prescription drugs may affect your ability to drive safely; check labels to see if there’s a warning against driving or operating heavy machinery while taking them.

Distracted Driving

Anything that takes your focus from the road is a distraction. Even a few seconds of distraction can cause a collision and severe injuries. Common distractions are:

  • Using a smartphone to text, read emails, or look at photos or videos
  • Putting on makeup, fixing your hair, and other grooming activities
  • Eating and drinking
  • Looking for something in your vehicle
  • Interacting with passengers
  • Daydreaming
  • Looking at other wrecks as you pass by

Failing to Follow Traffic Laws and Speed Limits

Those who drive over the speed limit frequently weave in and out of other traffic, sometimes not allowing enough room. Speeding cars might not be able to stop in time to avoid a collision if a car in front of them brakes suddenly.

Traffic laws are in place to protect people on the road, but some drivers don’t follow them. Examples of this are:

Driving at Night

Nighttime driving is sometimes dangerous for several reasons.

  • Most people are tired at the end of the day, which can cause delayed reaction times.
  • Darkness limits visibility and depth perception, even with street lights and headlights.
  • The likelihood of drunk drivers on the road increases during the nighttime hours.
  • Long-haul truckers may drive through the night to reach their destinations even if they are fatigued; fatigued driving has some of the same adverse physical effects as drinking.

Inclement Weather

Some weather conditions can cause wrecks.

  • Driving rain and thickly falling snow can significantly limit visibility.
  • Excessive water pooled on roadways can cause vehicles to hydroplane.
  • Snow and ice buildup can make cars spin out of control, slide into other vehicles, or run off the road.
  • Strong winds can push vehicles into adjacent traffic lanes, especially high-profile vehicles like tractor-trailers.

Why Should You Hire the Mike Morse Law Firm?


The Mike Morse Law Firm has provided competent legal representation to our clients since 1995. As the largest personal injury firm in Michigan, we have extensive resources available to help you recover maximum compensation if you sustain injuries in an accident.

Each of our clients receives personal attention, beginning with a free consultation. We will listen to the details of your accident and injury and then tell you if you have grounds for a personal injury claim.

If you’re worried that you can’t afford an attorney, don’t. Our clients benefit from our contingency fee policy: No Win, No Fees Guaranteed. You won’t pay us until we win a settlement for you.

We provide several ways for you to contact us for your convenience. You can call us at (855) MIKE-WINS, or reach out via live chat 24/7. You can also email us or submit our quick contact form and expect a prompt response.

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