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Can you get a traffic ticket in a self-driving car?

Nov 12, 2021

These days, autonomous vehicles – also known as self-driving cars – have stepped out of the realm of science fiction and grown to take a spot among your usual diesel, petrol and electric-fueled cars. This is changing the landscape of driving and challenging what we know about laws related to crime on the road.

For example, who is at fault if a self-driving car results in the driver facing a ticket? Does the driver still hold the blame despite not manning the car in that moment?

The first traffic ticket to an autonomous car

Back in 2018, Forbes reported on the first case of the driver of an autonomous car receiving a ticket. The San Francisco officer issued the ticket for the vehicle failing to yield right of way to a pedestrian, supposedly “getting too close for comfort”. General Motors disputed this claim, stating that sensors onboard the vehicle showed the pedestrian no less than 10.8 feet away from the vehicle while it was in self-driving mode.

Throughout the testing of these vehicles in other areas, other traffic violations have gone on record, too. This includes running red lights, violating bike lane rules, and driving too slowly. However, none of these incidents had documented cases of tickets until the mentioned 2018 case.

Who is at fault?

In this brand-new field, no one knows who should get the blame for traffic violations. Can a robot get a ticket? How about the owner? Should the law hold drivers liable for actions a car takes without them?

If you are ticketed for actions your driverless car made, don’t just pay the ticket. It may be worth your time to fight it.

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