Arizona is on the cutting edge of self-driving technology development with a couple of the world’s biggest companies – Google and General Motors – testing their autonomous vehicles in the Phoenix area. The stated goals of the technology’s developers range from convenience (people will no longer have to drive) and improved safety to slightly less obvious advantages such as reductions of fossil fuel consumption and traffic congestion.

Sometimes overlooked in all the media hoopla over driverless technology is that it also holds the promise of eliminating drunk driving and DUI arrests.

Because Waymo (a Google subsidiary) is testing autonomous vehicles in Tempe, Mesa, Chandler and Gilbert, we’re much closer to the technology that has the potential to reshape transportation.

Waymo’s autonomous Chrysler Pacificas are used in a ride share program that has so far logged more than 10 million miles.

Unfortunately, the safety record of self-driving vehicles is not spotless. Everyone remembers the autonomous Uber SUV that struck and killed an Arizona pedestrian nearly a year ago.

Other companies working on self-driving tech here include Nuro. Its 8-foot-long driverless vehicles carry groceries from a Fry’s in Scottsdale instead of humans.

GM is also using Scottsdale as a testing ground, with its autonomous all-electric Chevy Bolts. (Note: Bolt is not to be confused with the hybrid Chevy Volt, which has been discontinued.) The self-driving Bolts do have safety drivers behind the wheel, however, apparently ready to take over in case of vehicle malfunction.

Will one of these vehicles or technologies one day soon make drivers obsolete and DUI arrests a thing of the past? We just don’t know yet.

But we do know that before that future arrives, Arizona drivers can still face harsh drunk driving laws here. Please contact an attorney to help you navigate a complex legal system and protect your driving privileges and freedom.