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Can I drink alcohol in a self-driving car?

Self-driving or autonomous vehicles are touted as a solution to the safety issues caused by human error when operating a vehicle. Depending on the type of vehicle and its capabilities, some people even wonder whether automated vehicles will solve the problem of drunk driving. Getting an answer to this question requires an understanding of different types of self-driving vehicles.

According to, there are distinct differences between self-driving and driverless cars. A self-driving car is one that is able to perform some controls on its own, but it may still require human intervention. Conversely, a driverless car can perform these same controls but also monitor its surroundings and reacts to conditions in the appropriate manner. While these vehicles are not yet on the road, some models currently being tested on closed courses are without steering wheels and pedals.

In terms of the legality of drinking in self-driving vehicles, which are already on the road today, the answer is a resounding no. Popular Mechanics explains that drinking alcohol in a self-driving vehicle would be akin to drinking as a passenger. Additionally, manufacturers of these vehicles urge drivers to stay aware and focused on the road in the event they need to take over. In this sense, they do bear responsibility for operating the vehicle, which makes them subject to the same OVI laws.

Self-driving vehicles utilize sensors that interpret curves in the road as well as obstacles. While the technology is quite advanced, it’s not foolproof, and there have been many instances where a self-driving vehicle made a wrong maneuver. If a driver is intoxicated and unable to take over the controls, this can lead to a catastrophic accident where the driver will be considered negligent for his or her actions.