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Could Driverless Cars Be the Solution to Drunk Driving?

It’s like something out of a science fiction movie. A couple climbs into the car, ready for that big office party. Dressed to the nines, they quaff a martini before setting out. A touch of the button, and they’re off. They sit back and relax as the car navigates the city streets. They arrive at the downtown hotspot, get out, and the car goes off to find a parking spot. They program a time for the car to pick them up. If they change their mind, the car can always come earlier or later. It sounds like a dream or the scene of out a Will Smith movie. But this driverless car could very well be the future.

Google is currently developing a driverless car that already has many successful models. At any one given time, the company has as many as 12 cars on the road undergoing test drives. The car has driven up Lombard Street, world famous for its steep hill and tight turns, across the Golden Gate Bridge, and around Lake Tahoe. In March 2012, Google released a video of Steve Mahan, a legally blind California resident, being taken for a test drive. The increased mobility for the handicapped is just one of the far-reaching changes that driverless cars could have for our world if they become a common technology, as many experts believe they will. In early July, Nick Bilton of The New York Times published a blog post predicting some of the other effects they would have. Among other things, Bilton imagines there would be fewer traffic lights, less city space devoted to parking lots, more city parks and homes, lower cost of living in the cities, and more productive time spent in the car.

But Tyler Colman of the wine blog Dr. Vino sees another effect of driverless cars – fewer instances of drunk driving. Because the car does the driving, no one would have to be a designated driver or worry about limiting themselves to one or two drinks in a night. Instead, everyone could have as much as they wanted and still be assured of a safe ride home. Colman ties the advent of the driverless car in with newly proposed lower BAC levels. He supports lowering the legal limit, calling it “responsible” and a proven way to keep the number of accident fatalities down. However, he also sees driverless cars as the way of the future, and with their arrival, the debate concerning Blood Alcohol Content will be gone. He says, “[T]he technology may seem a years away from Main Street, but obviates the need to even discuss BAC since everyone’s a passenger. Everyone would toast BAC and DUI taking a back seat.”

It would be easy to laugh Colman off, but the technology is on the rise. Three states have already passed laws allowing driverless cars on the roads, and Audi, Toyota, and Mercedes-Benz are in a race with Google to bring the vehicles to the public. Within 10 years, it may be possible to go out for a night on the town and not have to take a taxi home.

About the Author:

Attorney John Musca is a former public defender who is now a criminal defense attorney focusing on DUI defense in private practice. Having handled thousands of criminal cases in both capacities, it is ultimately his passion for and belief in an aggressive defense that has catapulted his practice to grow to multiple offices throughout the state of Florida. Mr. Musca completed his undergraduate studies cum laude at Boston College in 1994 and received his Juris Doctor from the Case Western University School of Law in 1997. Additionally, he is involved in public interest legal work with local organizations that provide services to impoverished clients.

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