Connected and Automated Vehicles

​​​Rules of the Road - Legal Status of CAV in Wisconsin

​Current Legal Status of Automated, Autonomous, or Self-Driving Vehicles

Wisconsin state law currently requires an operator to be behind the wheel and in physical control of a vehicle at all times while driving on Wisconsin roadways.

As with any other vehicle that is operated on the roadway, the operator or owner is responsible for the appropriate and safe operation of the vehicle while driving it. ​This includes the use of any technology the vehicle is equipped with, any malfunctions of the vehicle, and adherence with current state law and the Rules-of-the-Road.​

Registering vehicles and licensing

The Rules-of-the-Road statutes for drivers and vehicle registration have not changed. Connected or automated vehicles are registered in the same as any vehicle currently on the road. A valid driver’s license is required to operate an AV on public roads. Both new and existing drivers should know the limitations of the technology in their vehicles.

Legal notes​

State laws and semi-automated vehicles

Semi-automated vehicles require an operator who is responsible for the correct use of the technology in the vehicle in addition to meeting all of the Wisconsin Rules of the Road statutes.

Driver licensing and vehicle safety requirements

State DMVs provide testing and licensing for human drivers, but NHTSA regulates the safety systems in vehicles.

Licensing the automation in a self-driving car

Who licenses the software in an automated vehicle is undetermined, currently. Most states that allow self-driving cars on the road require a permit to be filed with the state before testing or operation, with or without a safety driver.

Ticketing a self-driving vehicle

In most states, in a crash or traffic violation the owner of the vehicle receives ticket if there is no driver when operating in Level 4, or fully automated mode in a limited operational design domain (ODD).

Note: Tesla’s AutoPilot, Enhanced AutoPilot or Full Self-driving beta, GM SuperCruise, and others are only Level 2 driver assist systems, so the driver is responsible for the technology in the vehicle.

Automated features that fail and cause a crash

Like any mechanical malfunction of a vehicle, if an automated system or feature fails and causes a crash the driver of the vehicle would be ticketed for the crash. When operating without a driver, the owner of the vehicle would be held responsible for the crash.

Related resources

New technology in your car today for new drivers and existing drivers including descriptions and limitations of these new features.

American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA)

Current State Law