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Will self-driving cars actually stop drunk driving?

Some people have postulated that self-driving cars could put an end to drunk driving. After all, someone could just get inside, tell the car to drive to the house, and then go to sleep in the back seat—and the car would still be able to safely drive to the house all on its own.

However, some people say this wouldn't actually change anything. They say that the laws would still be the same and that people could still get arrested for using these self-driving vehicles while impaired.

The reasoning is that the cars aren't fully automated, even if they can drive on their own. The person will still have to turn it on, decide where to go, tell the car how to get there—or at least instruct it to choose a route—and set it in motion. According to some experts, these actions would still count as "driving" the vehicle, even though the person would not be steering the vehicle.

Plus, there is speculation that these cars may have manual overrides. If the system broke or there was an emergency, people may still need to take over the controls or at least hit the brakes. If an impaired person couldn't be trusted to do that, there could still be a serious risk to using a self-driving car.

On person speculated that part of the automated system could just be an ignition interlock system, making it so that the car won't start unless it's shown that at least one person in the vehicle is sober.

These questions haven't become too important yet, as these cars aren't for sale, but they could cause serious and important changes to DUI laws in the future, and people need to know about any and all such changes in New York.

Source: Spectrum, "Are Self-Driving Cars Really the Solution to Drunk Driving?," Willie Jones, accessed Nov. 06, 2015

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