Tesla Autopilot Crash: Is Drunk Driver Liable?

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Attorney Jeffrey Phillips | 800-260-0800 | Free Consult

A recent Tesla autopilot crash brings up an important question regarding liability: if a drunk driver sets their car to autopilot and a crash occurs, who is responsible?

This Legal Brief features attorney Jeffrey Phillips of Phillips Law Group in Phoenix, Arizona. He explains that drunk drivers should never operate a vehicle in any capacity, and that automakers must make sure they are only releasing safe vehicles onto the market.

To learn more, contact the attorney directly by calling 800-260-0800 or by submitting a contact form on this page. The consultation is free and confidential, and you owe no out-of-pocket attorney fees.

Drivers need to remain cautious, even when using a vehicle with autopilot features.

Autopilot driving is no longer an idea of the future, but a thing of the present. However, with autopilot comes the dangers of inattentive drivers. Autopilot is an interesting feature and if working correctly, could prevent a variety of accidents. However, it is a new technology and as such, still has kinks that need to be worked out.

Tesla has even warned drivers that they need to remain attentive and ready to take back control whenever using autopilot. A recent accident involving a vehicle on autopilot which crashed into a police car and ambulance is not the first accident to involve the use of autopilot since the advent of the technology.

Autopilot is not a substitute for driving sober.

Due primarily to the newness of the technology and its penchant for problems, it is essential that drivers follow traffic laws and avoid driving while under the influence. Both automakers and attorneys alike warn drivers that the safety of the autopilot feature can be significantly compromised without proper attention from a sober driver. Like any technology, it cannot account for human senses and reaction time.

It is imperative that automakers continue to provide clear warnings and instructions regarding autopilot features in their vehicles, and communicate to their drivers that autopilot is no substitute for a designated driver. Liability could lie with multiple parties in this situation, but it is important to remember that operating a vehicle or piece of machinery while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is against the law. The consequences for driving while under the influence, regardless of the involvement of autopilot, can be life-altering for more than just the driver involved.

To learn more, contact Jeffrey Phillips directly by calling 800-260-0800 or by submitting a contact form on this page. The consultation is free and confidential, and you owe no out-of-pocket attorney fees.

Video Transcript:

If a drunk driver puts a car on autopilot and then that car is in a crash, is the drunk driver still responsible?

I’m Rob Rosenthal, and this is an AskTheLawyers Legal Brief.

Police are investigating an accident involving a Tesla that was allegedly set on autopilot when it crashed into a police car, which then crashed into an ambulance. The police car was empty, and the occupants of the ambulance were not harmed.

The accident occurred in mid-July on I-10 near Benson, Arizona. The driver told police that he had been using Tesla’s autopilot system when the crash occurred. Police are investigating whether the driver was under the influence at the time of the accident.

After a previous accident involving the Tesla autopilot in 2018, the automaker said that: “Autopilot can be safely used on divided and undivided roads as long as the driver remains attentive and ready to take control.”

Attorney Jeffrey Phillips is the founding partner of Phillips Law Group based in Phoenix, Arizona. He urges drivers of cars with autopilot to be extra careful when the system is engaged. He says:

“There have been several accidents and multiple federal investigations involving the Tesla autopilot system. It is a relatively new system, and its safety is not guaranteed. Drivers must always stay attentive when using it, and drivers should never operate a vehicle, even one with autopilot, if they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.”

Phillips also goes on to say that automakers have a responsibility to create safe vehicles that do not put drivers in danger, and to provide clear warnings and instructions for using features like autopilot.

This has been an AskTheLawyers™ Legal Brief.

Disclaimer: This video is for informational purposes only. In some states, this video may be deemed Attorney Advertising. The choice of lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisements.