A potentially drastic reduction in law enforcement engagement with citizens is an often overlooked outcome of self-driving vehicles, as the focus remains steadily on highway safety and efficiency of traffic flow. Many of the safety benefits reaped as humans are taken out of the second-by-second decision-making equation of driving will also eliminate traffic violations; as vehicles become increasingly automated, the number of traffic violations will continually decrease. At the point where vehicles are driverless, it appears that the necessity of traffic-related stops could become moot altogether. Between now and then, however, there will be questions raised every step of the way, with answers that are likely to change as quickly as the modifications in the technology. Criminal liability issues in particular will arise in two ways—a legislative need for the actual rules of the road to change and a judicial response regarding the enforcement of those laws. The majority of the answers sought depend on more detailed specifications of the technologies to be used, as well as infrastructure plans for self-contained and interconnected vehicles, but the areas to be impacted are easily identifiable. This Article will focus on the criminal liability aspects of automated vehicles, beginning with impacts on the traffic codes that are expected (and in some cases, have already begun). The heart of the discussion will be in the judicial response category, examining the privacy protections around the digital information created by the car itself. The conclusion will identify possible courses of action for both government entities and manufacturers of these vehicles as they establish the parameters in which the vehicles operate.
Palodichuk, Sarah Aue.
Driving into the Digital Age: How SDVs Will Change the Law and Its Enforcement.
Minnesota Journal of Law, Science & Technology.
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