A Really Distracted Driver

Auto pilot in not contained in the CA drivers handbook's definition of designated driver. One would think a $ 100,000 smart car would have the ability to detect an inebriated, let alone asleep, driver, and not allow the car to operate with such a person behind the wheel, which is to say, have a safety feature that should have been of prime importance. Who knows, maybe said feature would make the car less appealing and hurt sales.

Technically he was not driving. A lawyer might argue.

Maybe the car turned itself on and started driving.

Just saying any lawyer in today's auto car would argue this

Technically the person who was charged with being inebriated and asleep in the driver's seat of the vehicle is innocent until proven guilty. True, a lawyer might argue anything to defend the client, such as the defendant, due to an adverse reaction to the sushi he consumed earlier that day, suffered from a medical condition that caused him to black out while in his car, and the alcohol found in the defendant's blood was the result of the sushi being tainted with saké, unbeknownst to him. So he was really not driving, for one cannot be driving while blacked out, and the AI car, H 9001, certainly was cognizant of that fact and safely assumed full command of the vehicle. And so, given some of the peculiar things that take place with judges and juries in courtrooms, the defendant might be found innocent.

It is illegal to be drunk, in the drivers seat, and keys in the ignition (car turned on).

Does Tesla use keys?

Hypothetically, if a "driverless" car were to start driving without being summoned (or if remotely controlled by hacker), this would raise interesting liability implications.

I remember seeing a video within the last few years of Volvo future driverless technology that would drop off passenger at mall entrance, then self park. Thereafter, vehicle could be summoned for pickup via smartphone app. Volvo has indicated the manufacturer would accept liability for any accident caused by its driverless technology.

The crux of the legal problems surrounding driverless and auto-pilot assisted cars is that, like other areas of new technology, these vehicles have created unprecedented situations that current laws have to yet address, and so we have an ever changing legal landscape where the justice system will have to enact new laws as new situations arise. For now, at least in California, a driver of a car is responsible for what happens while in their auto-pilot cars, unless that individual can prove otherwise.