What Self-Driving Cars Could Mean for California DUI Laws

How Self-Driving Cars Will Change Driving

There are over 35 million registered cars in California today. That number has almost caught up to the population of California, which is over 39 million to date. With nearly as many cars as people in the Golden State, it’s easy to see why DUI laws are so harsh. Considering one in three fatal car accidents involves alcohol, the risks of drunk driving are great. Interestingly, those numbers are about to change.

California is leading the nation and the world in deploying self-driving (autonomous) cars. In fact, in February of this year, the State gave the go-ahead for unmanned testing of self-driving cars. As a response, the California DMV is scrambling to ensure regulations and laws are adapted to this new technology. To make sure liability falls in the right hands (and not the State’s), there is some pushback against unmanned self-driving cars. But as the home to numerous companies that contribute technologies to automation design, California is an ideal place to test and deploy leading-edge vehicles. Thus, companies that manufacture autonomous cars are fighting hard for the right to test and eventually commercially deploy cars that do not need (or are legally required to have) a driver. But in a state with notoriously strict DUI laws, how will the gradual (and perhaps eventual) disappearance of personally owned passenger vehicles affect DUI statistics?

DUI Laws Over Time

California DUI laws are always changing, and most argue they are becoming increasingly strict. From the MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) initiative in the 80s to today’s insistence on even stricter monitoring of California drivers, there’s never been a worse time to get a DUI than now. But laws change when the needs of the state change, and California is one of the most dynamic states in the country. For example, when DUI-related traffic fatalities increase, DUI laws often follow suit, increasing in penalties. Self-driving cars, however, represent a magnitude of change not previously encountered.

What the Future Holds

Some say in the future few people will own a car for daily or commuter use. That may be true. But one thing is certain; California DUI laws will not become less strict with fewer drivers on the road. Self-driving cars are a long way from becoming fully autonomous. And even when they are more common, there will still be people in personal vehicles on the road for some time. If those people drive drunk, they are putting everyone on the road, including those in self-driving cars, at risk. DUI laws come down to liability. This is one reason why DUI penalties are so harsh. The State views drunk driving as dangerous, and it is. But because of this danger factor, DUI offenders are treated like violent offenders in some respects.

Facing Your Future

If you are facing DUI charges, it’s best to work closely with a California DUI defense attorney who knows the laws thoroughly. DUI laws are ever-changing, and typically not in a way that favors defendants. Thus, you need someone who can protect your rights. No matter what the future holds for California DUI laws, you can expect jail time, a suspended license, and enormous costs if you are facing DUI charges now. Do not become a statistic that only supports stricter DUI laws. The good news is you can fight your charges. Technology isn’t just changing the way we drive; it’s changing the way we defend in court. The science of DUI law is complicated, but if leveraged skillfully, can help you beat your charges. Speak with an attorney to find out how.

If you are in the Visalia, Hanford or Tulare area and are facing driving crime charges, The Law Offices of Christopher Martens is here to help you. California DUI and driving crime defense attorney Christopher Martens can help you face your charges so you can move on with your life. Attorney Martens has handled thousands of cases over a span of ten years of criminal defense practice and can fight hard for your rights. Contact attorney Christopher Martens for experienced criminal defense counsel today. Contact our office at 559-967-7386 or email us at MartensLaw@gmail.com to discuss a possible plan of action for your case.

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