Can a Passenger be DUI in a Self-Driving Car?
By Jonathan Blecher on March 15, 2023
As self-driving cars become more common on our roads, it’s important to consider the potential legal implications of their use. One question that arises is whether a passenger in a self-driving car can be charged with DUI (driving under the influence).
DUI laws typically apply to drivers who are operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. However, in a self-driving car, the human passenger is not actually driving the vehicle. Instead, the car’s autonomous system is in control. Is that Actual Physical Control, as defined by Florida DUI law?
So, can a passenger in a self-driving car be charged with DUI?
The answer is: it depends on the specific circumstances. Let’s consider a few scenarios.
Scenario 1: The passenger is completely sober.
If the passenger is completely sober and not in control of the vehicle, they cannot be charged with DUI. In this scenario, the responsibility for any DUI-related offenses would fall entirely on the car’s operator or owner, who could be a human or a corporation.
Scenario 2: The passenger is under the influence.
If the passenger is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, but not in control of the vehicle, they may still be charged with DUI. This is because some DUI laws do not require the driver to be actively operating the vehicle, but instead only require that they are in “actual physical control” of the vehicle. In this case, the passenger may be considered to be in “actual physical control” of the self-driving car, even if they are not actively driving it.
Scenario 3: The passenger takes control of the vehicle.
If the self-driving car encounters a situation where it requires human intervention, the human passenger may be required to take control of the vehicle. If the passenger is under the influence at this time, they could be charged with DUI if they take control of the vehicle and cause an accident or other harm.
Overall, the issue of whether a passenger in a self-driving car can be charged with DUI is complex and depends on the specific circumstances of each case. As self-driving cars become more common, it will be important for lawmakers to clarify how DUI laws apply in these situations, and for passengers to be aware of their legal responsibilities when riding in autonomous vehicles.