Can Self Driving Cars End Drunk Driving?

Posted by James Ferguson | Oct 15, 2017 | 0 Comments

Self-driving cars, also called driverless or autonomous cars, are vehicles that can sense their surroundings and navigate without human input. Although no completely driverless cars are allowed on the roads yet, the technology is quickly being developed. Arguably the biggest potential benefit to a self-driving car is the reduction in motor vehicle accidents, including drunk driving accidents.

The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation recently conducted a hearing concerning the development of autonomous vehicle technology. Colleen Sheehey-Church, National President of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), was among the witnesses that testified at the hearing. Sheehey-Church and MADD strongly advocate for the development of fully autonomous cars, as it could become the end to drunk driving as we know it.

Can Self Driving Cars Really Prevent Drunk Driving?

Even though the technology is not yet fully developed, self-driving cars are very much a reality. Many of these environment-detecting technologies, such as radar, GPS, and laser light detection, have existed for years. Nearly every major auto company is racing to release the first fully autonomous car to the public.

The touted benefits of a self-driving car include:

  • Reduced traffic accidents (including drunk driving incidents);
  • Mobility for those who can't drive;
  • Relief from travel exhaustion;
  • Freedom to focus on other activities; and
  • Energy efficiency (lower fuel consumption).


The ability to eliminate drunk driving (and therefore DUI arrests) through the use of driverless cars would be a gamechanger. Many of us would appreciate the ability to partake in a dinner date and make it home without becoming a danger to ourselves and others.

However, for drunk driving to become history, several things must happen first. Sheehey-Church advocates for strong safety testing and regulation by the federal government and “level 4 and 5 autonomous technologies.” At level 5 automation, drivers are not needed in any capacity to operate the vehicle safely. These technologies must be tested and implemented before self-driving cars can be counted on as designated drivers.

Concerns About Autonomous Car Safety

While auto companies and advocates for driverless vehicle technology rave about the potential safety benefits of autonomous cars, skeptics understand these vehicles could present a whole new crop of safety concerns. Many wonder if these cars could make us less safe, with problems like:

  • Liability issues when an accident does occur;
  • Sharing the road with non-autonomous vehicles (human error);
  • Implementation of government safety regulations; and
  • Privacy and security issues.

Auto companies like Tesla, and the federal and state governments are closely watching the development of this technology to ensure it is safe for everyone. State governments are unlikely to allow inebriated drivers to get behind the wheel until fully autonomous cars have demonstrated their ability to keep us safe.

Questions about DUI Charges? Contact a Mississippi DUI Defense Lawyer

If you were recently charged with driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol in Mississippi, it is important to speak with an experienced attorney right away. Dedicated DUI defense attorney James Robert Ferguson may be able to help. Call us today at (901) 318-3847.

See related blog posts:
MADD Recommendations for DUI Child Endangerment
What You Need to Know About Ignition Interlocks

About the Author

James Ferguson

I was born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee. During college, I studied at East Tennessee State University, where I received a Bachelor's in Criminal Justice, which I then followed up with a Master's in Criminology from the University of Memphis. Before beginning my legal career, I worked as a Project Coordinator at the University of Memphis, where I assisted in training law enforcement officers in the Memphis Model of Crisis Intervention Training. The purpose of the project was to provide officers with the tools to deal with citizens in a state of mental crisis. I then went on to study law at the Mississippi College School of Law in Jackson. During law school, I clerked with Victor W. Carmody, Jr., the lawyer who wrote the book on DUI law in Mississippi. I am currently licensed to practice law in both Tennessee and Mississippi, and spend a majority of my time traveling the highways and biways of Mississippi defending those who have been charged with a DUI.

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