Late last year, California apparently became the first state in our union to file felony charges against someone for operating a vehicle while on Autopilot. Autopilot is a Tesla automated driving system. The incident took place in 2019. The vehicle at issue was – in fact – a Tesla. The Tesla ran a red light, slammed into another car and killed two other people. The driver now faces two counts of vehicular manslaughter. He has plead not guilty and is out on bail pending the outcome of his case.
The California criminal charges aren’t the first involving an automated driving system. They are, however, the first to involve the Autopilot technology. The filing of the charges, no doubt, will serve notice to drivers that using auto assist systems like Autopilot does not come without risk; drivers cannot simply rely on these driver assist systems carte blanche. Every vehicle requires the human driver to be in control of his vehicle at all times. Unfortunately driver assist programs appear to be causing a phenomena known as “automation complacency.” Although automated systems can help drivers avoid crashes, the technology must be used responsibly. Failure to do so may result in a criminal charge.
If you are cited, arrested or charged for a crime (driving related or otherwise) you should immediately contact a Criminal lawyer. A criminal attorney is not going to judge you, and understands that everyone makes mistakes. Hiring a Criminal Lawyer to help can – at a minimum – reduce penalties, and can help direct people on how to best deal with their criminal charge, and many times even get them dismissed. So it should go without saying that someone cited for a misdemeanor or felony should hire a qualified Criminal Lawyer as soon as possible. Criminal charges can cause havoc on a person’s personal and professional life. Anyone charged with a crime in Washington State should immediately seek the assistance of a seasoned Criminal Lawyer – like the attorneys at SQ Attorneys – (206) 441-0900.