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Can Your AI Assist Contribute to a DWI Crash?

Posted by Doug Murphy | Nov 16, 2022 | 0 Comments

Self-driving cars, autonomous vehicles, or just AI assist. Whatever you call them, their artificial intelligence can work wonders in keeping a vehicle on the road and even avoiding crashes. But vehicle AI assist technology isn't perfect, especially when combined with the imperfections of the driver behind the AI assist vehicle's wheel. What, though, if that driver is drunk, and the AI assist technology leads to a vehicle crash? Can the drunk driver blame the DWI crash on the AI assist? Drivers of AI assist vehicles in the Houston area have every right to wonder whether their AI assist vehicle might save them from a DWI offense.

What Is Vehicle AI Assist?

One first has to understand a little about the technology, to answer the question of what role AI assist might have in relieving a drunk driver of a DWI crash arrest. Vehicle AI assist terms and definitions vary. And vehicle AI assist technology is changing rapidly. But one clear way to think of the subject is that vehicle AI assist technology provides automatic braking, automatic steering control, warning lights and sounds, and similar driver aids to reduce or prevent vehicle crashes. Vehicle AI assist systems differ in the technologies that they use, like LiDAR, radar, and cameras. AI assist systems also vary in the way they deploy those technologies and integrate them with the vehicle's driver controls. Some AI assist systems do more, while other systems do less. Generally, though, vehicle AI assist technology leaves the driver in place, on alert, and in at least some, if not primary, control. Contrast vehicle AI assist technology with outright autonomous vehicles, also known as self-driving vehicles, which put full control in the system, leaving the vehicle driverless or with only backup driver control.

Vehicle AI Assist's Role in Reducing DWI Crashes

Vehicle AI assist technology may someday become a great humanitarian aid. After all, tens of thousands die every year on U.S. highways. Many of those fatal vehicle crashes involve drunk drivers. Vehicle AI assist, or outright autonomous vehicles, could someday save tens of thousands of lives annually in the U.S. alone. Vehicle AI assist could also save thousands of drunk drivers from involvement in crashes leading to serious DWI charges. Texas, for instance, charges DWI injuries as intoxication assault with up to ten years in prison. And Texas charges DWI fatalities as intoxication manslaughter with up to twenty years in prison. Thus, think not only of the injuries and fatalities AI assist could prevent but also of the DWI convictions and broken lives AI assist could prevent. But that's if the vehicle AI assist works. Our question, though, is what happens to the drunk driver if the AI assist doesn't work and is instead to blame for the crash.

The Legal Challenges of Vehicle AI Assist

Vehicle AI assist technology definitely presents some legal challenges when either the driver or the technology fails to avoid a crash. But vehicle AI assist technology presents more problems in assigning responsibility than if, say, the vehicle's brakes or steering failed. In a mechanical failure, especially one due to manufacturer design rather than owner maintenance, the manufacturer alone may be responsible if the failure alone was the crash's cause. But with vehicle AI assist technology, if the technology fails, by definition, the driver is still supposed to be in place. Each case is unique, but in theory, AI assist technology's failure to alert or correct the driver shouldn't relieve the driver from the driver's own responsibility to control the vehicle. The legal rule could be different for truly autonomous, self-driving vehicles, but not generally for AI assist where the driver retains primary vehicle control.

Why DWI Crashes of AI Assist Vehicles Are Different

But that's just sorting out whether the AI assist system or driver is to blame for the crash. That doesn't address the driver's DWI charge. Significantly, a DWI charge does not depend on causing an accident. A court can convict of a Texas DWI under Texas Penal Code Section 49.04 without any accident at all. And if the drunk driver's vehicle crashes because of the fault of someone else or, say, the defect in the vehicle's AI assist, the driver can still face the basic DWI charge. Thus, in that respect, whether the driver can blame the AI assist for the crash makes no difference to the basic DWI offense. Where an AI assist-caused crash could make a difference, though, is to an intoxication assault or intoxication manslaughter charge. In those cases of injuries or death, prosecutors must prove the connection between the driver's recklessness in driving while intoxicated and the injury or death-causing crash.

Defending DWI Crash Cases Involving AI Assist

But again, each DWI incident is unique. The most important thing to realize is that a DWI charge is not the same as a DWI conviction. The prosecution must prove each element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. And if the police or prosecution presents unreliable evidence or violate the DWI defendant's constitutional rights, a DWI Specialist defense attorney's skilled representation can make the difference with motions to suppress and other skilled services. So while the most important thing to realize is that you may be able to defend and defeat the DWI charge, the most important thing to do is to retain a skilled DWI Specialist defense attorney.

Premier Houston DWI Specialist Defense Attorney Available

DWI Specialist defense attorney Doug Murphy is available for skilled and effective DWI defense representation in the greater Houston area. Attorney Murphy is the 2023 Houston DWI Lawyer of the Year, as recognized by Best Lawyers in America. Attorney Murphy is also a Board Certified DWI Specialist who holds both DWI Board Certification and Criminal Law Certification, one of only two attorneys in Texas to hold both specialist certifications. Attorney Murphy has such widely recognized DWI defense expertise among lawyers and judges that he frequently lectures nationwide at continuing legal education seminars teaching other lawyers DWI defense. Call (713) 229-8333 or go online now to retain premier Houston DWI defense services.

About the Author

Doug Murphy

Doug Murphy is one of only two Texas lawyers Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, and also in DWI Defense by the National College for DUI Defense, accredited by the American Bar Association and the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.

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