DUI in a Tesla – What happens when an officer pulls over a self-driving car? Can the officer charge anyone with a DUI in a self-driving Tesla? Some Scholars have written about this and I thought we might review this issue. Tesla automobiles have an autopilot feature. It is not truly self-driving as Tesla has referred to it as semi-autonomous driving. Other car companies have also tried developing autopilot technology.
What happens when an officer pulls over a self-driving car?
Understanding DUI Charges and Self-Driving Teslas
Read on to learn about the legal implications of being pulled over in a self-driving Tesla.
Can an Officer Charge Anyone with a DUI in a Self-Driving Tesla?
Self-driving technology has been gaining momentum in recent years, with companies like Tesla at the forefront of this emerging industry. However, this technology has raised questions about how law enforcement officers will handle DUI charges when it comes to self-driving cars. In the case of a self-driving Tesla, the driver is not technically in control of the vehicle, which complicates matters for law enforcement officials.
Scholars’ Perspectives on the Issue
Legal scholars have written extensively on this topic, and there is no clear consensus on how the law should treat self-driving vehicles. Some argue that the driver is still responsible for any DUI charges that may arise, as they are ultimately in control of the vehicle, even if they are not physically driving it. Others believe that the responsibility should fall on the car’s manufacturer, as they are the ones who designed and produced the vehicle’s self-driving technology.
Navigating the Future of Transportation
As the technology behind self-driving cars continues to develop, it is likely that we will see more legal and regulatory changes in how they are treated under the law. In the meantime, it is important for both law enforcement officials and the general public to educate themselves on the current state of the law and how it may apply in cases involving self-driving vehicles.
Stay informed about the latest developments in self-driving technology and the law by following reputable sources and consulting with legal professionals as needed.
Here are a few sources to support the information presented:
“Self-Driving Cars and the Law: A Survey of Legal Issues Surrounding Autonomous Vehicles” by Bryant Walker Smith, University of South Carolina School of Law
“Autonomous Vehicle Law: An Overview” by Jim Chen, University of Louisville – Louis D. Brandeis School of Law
“Regulating Self-Driving Cars” by Matthew W. Daus, Transportation Law Journal
“The End of Traffic Stops? Reimagining Public Safety for the Self-Driving Future” by Bryant Walker Smith, Harvard Journal of Law & Technology
These sources provide in-depth analysis of the legal and regulatory issues surrounding self-driving cars, including the potential implications for DUI charges.
California Highway Patrol Charges Driver With DUI in a Tesla.
In January 2018, in San Francisco, a person in a Tesla car had an alcohol level twice the legal limit. The Tesla’s operator received a DUI. Tesla has instructed drivers using autopilot to maintain consciousness while driving. Also, Tesla tells drivers using autopilot to keep their hands on the steering wheel. In this arrest, the driver explained that the Tesla was on autopilot to the California Highway Patrol. Even with the driver’s explanation, the officer arrested and charged the driver with DUI. The California Highway Patrol tweeted that the car did not drive itself to the tow yard.
Will Florida Officers Charge Drivers With DUI in a Tesla?
Florida law prohibits an intoxicated driver from being in actual physical control of a vehicle. The car does not need to be moving at the time of a DUI arrest. Florida only requires that the vehicle is capable of being moved. The case law discusses the location of the keys and whether or not the car is operable. Under this broad definition of driving that includes the capacity of physical control of the car, it is highly unlikely the operator of a self-driving car would beat a DUI on that defense. It is probable that the court would find the driver was in actual physical control of the vehicle. Hence, some cars equipped with these automatic driving features have contracts that require the user to keep hands on the steering wheel even when the vehicle is in autopilot mode.
At the University of South Florida, DUI conviction can have impacts beyond just staying on your driving record for the next 10 years. In addition, you can lose student financial aid including Bright Futures benefits. DUI Attorney W.F. “Casey” Ebsary, Jr. explains University of South Florida Police (USFPD) have conducted DUI checkpoints / DUI saturation patrols since 2006. The USFPD has 43 officers. The USFPD patrol all of the campus and the areas surrounding the campus. Because the University of South Florida DUI cases have a payoff – awards. Furthermore, one DUI contest got the agency a fully loaded Chevrolet Tahoe.
Dui Defense Attorney Casey Ebsary, also notes that USF Police Department conduct Saturation Patrols on and around the Tampa, Florida campus. Another press release warned, “The University of South Florida Police Department will conduct DUI Saturation Patrols within our community on January 13, 2012. This patrol will begin at 2:00 a.m. and end at 5:00 a.m.”
As a result, DUI enforcement by “USF Police Officers . . . use this DUI Saturation Patrol to identify impaired drivers in an effort to keep our streets safe. Impaired drivers . . . will face arrest and prosecution.” Students caught likely will face driver’s license suspension and criminal prosecution. In addition, these students will face action by the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities. Some issues in the Student Code of Conduct raised by a University of South Florida DUI are below.
Student Code of Conduct
“The conduct process may be initiated against a student charged with conduct that potentially violates both the criminal law and/or the Student Code of Conduct.”
“Students are responsible for compliance with all public laws.”
“Misuse or Possession of Illegal Drugs.”
“Misuse of Alcohol.”
A sample of Prior University of South Florida DUI Checkpoint
We uncovered a report of a DUI Checkpoint Roadblock on the Tampa Campus. It is “USF Police to Conduct Sobriety Checkpoint.” The University of South Florida Police Department will host a Sobriety Checkpoint on Campus on May 15, 2013, beginning at 11:00 pm. . . . [This is ] followed by a four-hour saturation patrol. During this time, USF Police Officers will seek . . . impaired drivers in an effort to keep our streets safe. So impaired drivers . . . will face arrest and prosecution. Furthermore, this operation is part of a comprehensive, collaborative approach to traffic safety by the USF Police Department. Finally, the USF Police Department has primary jurisdiction on and about property owned or controlled by the University of South Florida.
Aggressive Campus Cops
Someone needs to tell DUI Officer Michael Tinney about their primary jurisdiction. We have yet to defend a single DUI arrest, he made on campus. The USF Police Department awarded Officer Tinney Officer of the Year and DUI Enforcement Officer of the Year for 2012. He also received an award from Hillsborough County Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) for his DUI Enforcement in 2012. Officer Tinney actively participates in all enforcement campaigns and leads the DUI Checkpoints for his squad.” He is a DUI arrest award winner in the campus police department’s DUI arrest contest.
“When it comes to going out and drinking with friends, most students are capable of securing a designated driver. But according to a USF study, most of these students are putting their lives in the hands of ‘less drunk’ rather than ‘sober’ drivers.”
And “A group of public relations students, led by assistant professor Kelly Werder, conducted surveys and focus-group research for the Tampa Alcohol Coalition and found most USF students think a DUI has the same consequential impact as a speeding ticket.” By Elise Bouchard of the USF Oracle
Another DUI Checkpoint Report
Casey Ebsary, a Board Certified Criminal Trial Lawyer, received a tip that there will be a DUI checkpoint on campus this weekend, July 8. The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office and the University of South FloridaUSF Police Department will conduct the sting and it will apparently be on campus. Most noteworthy these checkpoints are usually posted on the Sheriff’s website, but this one was not. Recently, we obtained a police manual for these types of checkpoints.
Got DUI – Get Expelled: “UF looks beyond campus for DUI cases – They may try to hide it from Mom and Dad, but University of Florida (UF) students caught driving drunk in Alachua County won’t be able to hide it from UF administrators. This month, UF began regularly monitoring off-campus DUI convictions. Students convicted of DUI in the county won’t just face criminal courts, they will go before UF’s Office of Student Judicial Affairs, where they could face suspension or expulsion.
Student Judicial Affairs already hears between 30 and 40 on-campus DUI cases each year. But that number will likely go up now that UF is looking beyond its borders, said Eugene Zdziarski, UF’s dean of students. First-time offenders in the system are typically suspended from school for a year, Zdziarski said. Repeat offenders, however, can face expulsion, he said.”
Campus of University of South Florida DUI Arrests on the Rise
“More than twice as many students were arrested for drunken driving on campus in 2005 than in 2004 because of University Police Department’s new chief and UF President Bernie Machen’s alcohol policies, University Police spokesman Lt. Joe Sharkey said. There were 111 arrests for DUIs on campus in 2005, 44 arrests in 2004 and 56 arrests in 2003, according to University Police Department crime statistics. “
Dine, Dance, and Detained: How to Avoid DUI Charges – Tips From a Tampa DUI Attorney
DUI attorneys in Tampa know there are certain locations generally and several bars, specifically that generate much of the DUI traffic stop action for law enforcement agencies. Police are tracking where drivers who have been arrested reported having their last drink. Unfortunately, for the bars on the lists published by the Tampa Tribune, these bar owners cannot control the police or the surveillance of their locations and their customers. Not surprisingly, in general, the neighborhoods close to the Tampa Police Department headquarters are hot spots for DUI arrests. Hyde Park and Ybor City are frequent entries on incident reports according to the media. Best advice – make sure to arrange a ride home.
“Aside from the decision to waive their Miranda rights, the only good that comes of honest answers to these questions will be finding out where drivers can go to increase the probability of an arrest ending the evening.”
Video of a driving under the influence traffic law enforcement officer from court proceedings at the Hillsborough County Courthouse told drivers what many already knew – cops watch bar parking lots. Now drivers and visitors know which geographic areas and which bars are most likely to have officers waiting to issue DUIs.
“The last-drink survey system does have some flaws, Morgan admitted.” Some of the people with DUI charges were drinking at a private residence or refuse to answer deputies’ questions.
The Town N’ Country area located just west of Tampa International Airport is one of the Tampa DUI hot spots. The roads near the airport are confusing and with so much construction. The signage is unfamiliar and is not always clear. The basis for some of these traffic stops is improper lane changes. Visitors are the frequent victim of DUI patrol officers in this section of Hillsborough County, Florida.
Another Tampa DUI hot spot, the Hyde Park neighborhood has several streets that are one-way only. Officers wait for moving violations like not coming to a complete stop, going the wrong way on a one way or weaving to investigate the potential DUI.
5 Bars in Hillsborough County
“Bars on the lists published by the Tampa Tribune, these bar owners cannot control the police or the surveillance of their locations and their customers.”
MacDinton’s 405 South Howard Avenue, Tampa, FL 33606
The Kennedy 2408 West Kennedy Boulevard, Tampa, FL 33609
Peabody’s 15333 Amberly Drive, Tampa, FL 33647
G Bar/Fusion 1401 East 7th Avenue, Tampa, FL 33605
“Police officer candidly admits the obvious – cops sit in bar parking lots.”
The most frequently reported last drink taken occurs at some of the places listed below. Cops ask people they have arrested:
Where have they been?
How much they drank? and
Where were they going?
Aside from the decision to waive their Miranda rights, the only good that comes of honest answers to these questions will be finding out where drivers can go to increase the probability of an arrest ending the evening.
Where to go to Increase the Odds of a DUI Arrest
“Next time you visit some of the area’s more popular bars, make sure you arrange a ride home if you plan on partaking in more than one or two alcoholic beverages.’ TBO.com
2- The Kennedy
3- Hyde Park Cafe
4- Seminole Hard Rock Casino
6- The Lodge
7- Blue Martini
8- CDB Pizza
9- The Drynk
10- Gaspar’s Grotto
Before 2014, often the state did not present scientific evidence of the machine’s accuracy. Recently, a Florida Driving Under the Influence court ruled in State v. Garcia, (20th Cir Aug 20, 2014) that the State Attorney must establish the admission of an Intoxilyzer Breath Test result. Prosecutors must use the traditional scientific predicate to introduce breath test results from Intoxilyzer 8000 in a trial. The court ruled that it could not determine whether the modified Intoxilyzer 8000 used in Florida was same machine/instrument approved by NHTSA ( National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ) for use in Florida.
Sometimes we uncover broken Intoxilyzer 8000 breath machines. We reviewed this official FDLE Form 41 Department Inspection Report records of this machine. The machine had not passed the post-inspection Diagnostic Check. The instrument does not comply with Florida Administrative Code Chapter 11D-8. In addition, after failing its monthly inspection there was no evidence of repairing the machine. Notably, the machine returned to service without any repair record.
No Proof, No DUI Conviction
When the Intoxilyzer 8000 has not been maintained, the results may be thrown out. Without that evidence, it is difficult for the state to prove your guilt. Sometimes the state will offer a reduced charge of reckless driving does not carry the risk associated with a DUI conviction. If you have another DUI conviction later, your prior convictions enhance your penalties. Your conviction penalties may include; fines, ignition interlock device, license suspension or revocation and jail or prison. Multiple DUIs can carry mandatory jail time. Once a driver has three or more DUI convictions, it becomes a felony.
Hillsborough County has consistently been ranked the worst or near the worst in Florida for DUI crashes, injuries, and fatalities. Given the dangers of impaired driving and the importance of reducing recidivism to promote long-term Community safety, the Hillsborough County State Attorney’s Office has established the reducing impaired driving recidivism initiative. The program seeks to aggressively target and reduce impaired driving by imposing enhanced sanctions like alcohol monitoring devices and DUI education programs on first-time, non-aggravated DUI offenders. This First-Time DUI Diversion program also promotes consistency in the prosecution of DUI cases by eliminating the incentive for offenders to refuse to provide a breath sample during the investigation.
Who Is Eligible for First-Time DUI Diversion Program?
To be eligible for the First-Time DUI Diversion program, first, the case must be a misdemeanor DUI. There can be no children in the vehicle. Also, the breath alcohol concentration must be below .200% and there cannot have been a crash. Additionally, there cannot be a prior DUI alcohol-related reckless driving, driving while license suspended with serious bodily injury or death, leaving the scene of an accident with injury or death, or vehicular homicide charges in the driver’s past. Finally, there cannot have been a prior DUI diversion program, more than one non-DUI diversion program as an adult, or in the five years prior to the date of offense the driver cannot have had a prior adjudication withhold or any portion of a sentence on a felony.
What Is The Process For Selecting Cases In This DUI Diversion Program?
The state attorney’s office will evaluate all cases on an individual fact-specific basis. The state attorney’s office solely determines the individual’s eligibility for the RIDR First-Time DUI Diversion Program. There will be three sanction levels for eligible cases. Level one cases will have a breath level below .15%. Next, Level two will have breath alcohol levels above .15% but less than .20% or there has been a refusal to provide. Last, Level 3 will be for drug-related DUIs.
Why Would Someone Want To Accept A Plea Offer Under The New DUI Program?
Mainly the driver will be offered a reduced charge of reckless driving and withhold adjudication. There will be 12 months probation. Individual must pay standard court costs and cost of supervision. They will have their vehicle immobilized for 10 days. The first-time DUI offender cannot possess or consume alcohol, illegal drugs, or non prescribed drugs during that 12 month period. Also, the offender must successfully complete the DUI school and any recommended treatment.