Cars that you can place in the “Autopilot” mode to essentially drive themselves are now a reality. While they aren’t common in California freeways just yet, you may have shared the road with one without realizing it. Tesla is one car manufacturer that makes vehicles with this feature.
Having a car that you can program to drive itself, however, does not make driving under the influence legal. Late last month, California Highway Patrol (CHP) officers arrested a man in Palo Alto (interesting, the city where Tesla is headquartered) for DUI. When the driver didn’t stop for officers as he traveled south on Highway 101 at about 3:30 a.m., they followed him.
Allegedly, the man was asleep at the wheel of the car, which was operating on Autopilot. According to the CHP, the 45-year-old man didn’t pass a field sobriety test.
This isn’t the first incident of this kind, even in the Bay Area. Earlier this year, CHP officers arrested a man they found passed out behind the wheel of a Tesla. That man, who allegedly had a blood-alcohol level more than double the legal limit, reportedly told an officer that it was safe for him to drive because the Autopilot function on the car was set.
While you might be safer driving under the influence in a vehicle set on Autopilot than in one that doesn’t have that feature, it’s still not safe. Further, the law doesn’t see any difference. If you’re relying on your “self-driving” car to get you home after you’ve been drinking, think again. Call an Uber or Lyft with a human (and presumably sober) driver behind the wheel. Whatever the circumstances, if you’re arrested for DUI, you need to take the matter seriously and seek legal representation. DUI convictions in California can have serious consequences.