Can a Driver Get a DUI if the Tesla Model 3 is Running on Autopilot?

With the advent of self-driving cars, many legal and ethical questions have arisen. One such question is whether a driver can be charged with a DUI (Driving Under the Influence) if their Tesla Model 3 is running on Autopilot. This question is not as straightforward as it may seem, as it involves understanding both the capabilities of Tesla’s Autopilot system and the legal definitions of impaired driving.

Understanding Tesla’s Autopilot

Tesla’s Autopilot is an advanced driver-assistance system that includes features like automatic lane centering, adaptive cruise control, and self-parking. However, it’s important to note that Autopilot is not a fully autonomous system. Tesla’s website clearly states that “Autopilot enables your car to steer, accelerate and brake automatically within its lane, but current Autopilot features require active driver supervision and do not make the vehicle autonomous.”

Impaired driving laws vary by jurisdiction, but they generally prohibit operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The key term here is “operating.” In many jurisdictions, a person can be charged with a DUI even if the car is not moving, as long as they are in control of the vehicle. This means that even if a Tesla is on Autopilot, the person in the driver’s seat is still legally considered to be operating the vehicle.

Can You Get a DUI in a Tesla on Autopilot?

Given the above information, the answer is yes, a driver can get a DUI if their Tesla Model 3 is running on Autopilot. Even though the car has some self-driving capabilities, the driver is still legally responsible for the vehicle. If a police officer suspects that the driver is impaired, they can be pulled over and charged with a DUI, regardless of whether the car was on Autopilot at the time.


While self-driving technology like Tesla’s Autopilot can assist drivers and potentially improve road safety, it does not absolve drivers of their legal responsibilities. Drivers must still adhere to all traffic laws, including those regarding impaired driving. As self-driving technology continues to evolve, so too will the legal landscape. However, for now, the law is clear: a driver can get a DUI if their Tesla Model 3 is running on Autopilot.