What Do Self-Driving Cars Mean for Drunk Drivers?

Ministers in the United Kingdom have given the go-signal to the first trials of self-driving cars in the UK, reports the Daily Mail. Projected to be publicly available around 2020, the idea of self-driving cars—which can recognize school zones and speed limits—has raised many questions, especially pertaining to driver responsibility.

Proponents argue that accidents caused by human error could be minimized—as long as software programming is fail-safe. But should an accident occur, who would be to blame? An official British government report states, “It does not seem reasonable to suggest that the human driver is still responsible for the manner in which the vehicle drives since they may not even be aware of the road environment or the presence of other road users.”

What does this mean for drunk drivers? The Department of Transportation notes that “’under present law, the drink-drive offense relates to being ‘in charge’ of the vehicle, rather than being ‘in control’ of it,” making clear that operating a self-driving vehicle under the influence is still grounds for a punishable offense. Moreover, a Whitehall official commented, “The focus is not about sorting out people’s Saturday nights.” [Daily Mail] [Flickr.com/LoKan]