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Is ‘Autopilot’ a Defense to a Drunk Driving Charge?

Technology may be breaking barriers, but that doesn't mean drivers should be breaking laws. A San Francisco Bay Area driver, charged with driving under the influence after being found asleep behind the wheel on the Bay Bridge last week, apparently claimed that his Tesla was on autopilot when confronted by the California Highway Patrol. That might be a new one, but it wasn't a successful one. As the C.H.P. noted on Twitter afterward, "no it didn't drive itself to the tow yard." The Drunk Part Really Hurts His Drunk Driving Defense When telling it to the judge, context matters. According to the C.H.P., the suspect was two-times above California's Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) limit at the time. That's not close, just like Oakland and San Francisco really aren't that close when trying to sneak your car home after a night out either. And that's wandering into the range for an Aggravated DUI for that matter, though we haven't seen the exact test results yet. Let's Put "Autopilot" in Quotes Here Tesla has yet to confirm if the autopilot feature was used here, but it likely won't matter. According to Fortune, 'Tesla's autopilot is not fully autonomous driving' as the 'autopilot system is [merely] designed to get a driver's attention if it detects a challenging situation.' Which can be a nice feature to have, but isn't quite at a 'drive me home, Tesla' level of technology yet. It should still count as 'driving' under California DUI law as well. Autonomous Driving and the Law Someday there will be a case asking what constitutes "driving" when a truly self-driving car is involved in a DUI. California is shaping up to be a likely test state for answering that question. But until then, a better defense might be a good attorney.Related Resources: Find DUI/DWI Lawyers Near You (FindLaw's Lawyer Directory) Does Autopilot Absolve One Who Drives Drunk or Has an Accident? (ABA Journal) Can You Get a DUI in a Self-Driving Car? (FindLaw's Blotter) DUI Law (FindLaw's Learn About the Law)
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DUI Checkpoints on Halloween: Laws to Remember

Welcome to FindLaw's DUI Law series. If you have been charged with a DUI, know someone who has, or just want to know about the law and how to protect your rights during a DUI stop, please come back each week for more information. Want to hear something truly scary? You had a few drinks, are on your way home, and there are police lights on the road up ahead. Do you look too drunk to drive? What's your blood alcohol content? Are you going to jail tonight? DUI checkpoints can be a frightening experience. With 55 deaths last Halloween in drunk driving accidents, and promises of more DUI checkpoints this season, the prospect of a DUI is even more horrifying. So make sure you remember these laws if you run into a DUI checkpoint this Halloween. Know What to Expect According to Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Knowledge is the antidote of fear." And knowing what happens at a DUI checkpoint can assuage your fear of them. You should know that most DUI checkpoints are legal, and officers are allowed to stop your car and request license, insurance, and registration information.Based on your interaction, they may ask you to perform field sobriety tests or submit to a breathalyzer or drug swab. So the stop will resemble a normal DUI stop, only officers don't need a good reason to pull you over -- they just need a neutral formula for stopping motorists. Know What to Do No, it's not illegal to turn around before a DUI checkpoint. However, the police may still stop you for other reasons. If they see you driving erratically, making an illegal turn, or otherwise violating traffic laws you can still get pulled over. Once a drunk-driving investigation is started, it will be similar to any other, so make sure you follow some handy tips for DUI checkpoints. Know What Not to Do Sometimes, knowing what not to do at a DUI checkpoint is better than knowing what to do. Obviously, you don't want to drink and drive, but if you're reading this post, we're guessing that's not an option. You should also avoid driving or acting erratically, being disrespectful of police, and having lose bottles of alcohol rolling around in your car. Oh, and not having a gun in your lap can help as well. If you've been spooked by a DUI charge this Halloween, contact a local DUI attorney today. Related Resources: Don't face a DUI alone. Get your case reviewed by a lawyer for free now. (Consumer Injury) Halloween DUI Checkpoints Should Scare Adults (KPCC) Halloween 101: Halloween DUI Checkpoints Planned (FindLaw Blotter) Can You Turn Around at a DUI Checkpoint? (FindLaw Blotter)
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DUI and Immigration Status

The last thing you want to do if you are applying for citizenship is get a DUI. Even if you're in the country legally on a visa or green card, immigration officials may deport you or downgrade your status on the basis of a criminal conviction, especially for a felony. Here's what you need to know about a how a DUI conviction could affect your immigration status. DUI and Deportation If you are a foreign national, a DUI might not necessarily lead to deportation. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) generally considers a number of factors with regard to the penalties faced by an immigrant to the U.S., and deportation is generally reserved for aggravated felonies like battery, theft, filing a fraudulent tax return, and failure to appear in court. Of course, if your DUI is charged as a felony, you could run the risk of deportation. A DUI could become a felony if you have had prior DUI convictions, had an extremely elevated blood alcohol concentration, had children in the car, were driving on a suspended or revoked license, or caused death or injury in a car accident. Status Update Even if you do not get deported, your immigration status could be altered after a DUI conviction. If you're a legal permanent resident, you could be deported or detained during removal proceedings, or be barred from becoming a naturalized citizen in the future. Refugees and asylees could be deported after a criminal conviction, even if they would be in grave danger in their home country, and a conviction may result in the inability to obtain legal permanent resident status.Non-citizens with temporary lawful status (including individuals with nonimmigrant visas and those with temporary protected status) could lose that status and be removed from the country for any felony conviction or two or more misdemeanor convictions. And because undocumented immigrants are not authorized to be in the U.S., any criminal offense can result in deportation. In some legal proceedings, like immigration or deportation proceedings, even an expungement of a DUI may still be considered as proof of a prior conviction. To know for sure how a DUI will affect your immigration status, contact a local DUI attorney today. Related Resources: Don't face a DUI alone. Get your case reviewed by a lawyer for free now. (Consumer Injury) Can Your U.S. Citizenship Be Revoked? (FindLaw's Learn About the Law) Can a Guilty Plea Affect My Immigration Status? (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) Which Crimes Can Get Legal Immigrants Deported? (FindLaw Blotter)
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