As a DWI defense lawyer I get asked these questions often. The Uber question has been much more frequent since Uber finally came to St. Louis last year. The self-driving car question is starting to pop up more and more as well. The truth of the matter is that Uber is only an improvement on an option that was already available to people: taxis. Uber is much more efficient, and I do believe people are less likely to drive drunk now that Uber is an option because it overcomes several obstacles that have plagued the taxi industry such as long wait times and even uncertainty about availability. That being said, the number one issue with taxis still exists even with Uber: “I need my car in the morning.” I will say that I am proud of the people out there with the foresight to know they are going to have too many cocktails and Uber to and from their destination, but this is more of the exception than the rule.
Self-driving cars overcome many of these issues, but as hard as Silicone Valley is trying to get these cars on the road it will take years. Even once self-driving cars are available, it will take a generation to fully integrate them onto the road. Even then, I believe there will still be a group of people who will simply want to drive because they like to drive. Then there is a DWI related question that goes along with self-driving cars: if the person inside the vehicle is intoxicated, could that still be a DWI? Under current law the answer would be yes. A person in a self-driving car still operates the vehicle even if the operation solely involves starting and navigating the vehicle. Once self-driving cars do start making it to the roadways, I imagine these issues will appear in front of the appellate courts rather quickly because people will feel like they have a free pass to drink because they have a self-driving car.
If you or a friend have DWI questions, or if you are seeking representation for a DWI related offense, please contact St. Louis DWI lawyer Jason Korner at 314-409-2659 for a free consultation specific to your question or situation.