California Highway Patrol arrested a 45-year-old man early Friday morning under the suspicion of driving under the influence while his 2017 Tesla Model S was operating in Autopilot on Highway 101.
While condemned previously for its misleading marketing, Tesla has been clearer of late that Autopilot is not self-driving. Likewise, anyone who owns one of its vehicles should be able to understand that the feature has limitations necessitating regular human involvement to complete any journey.
However, none of this has stopped individuals from abusing the driving aid.Â In August another motorist was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol after his Tesla collided with a fire truck. Earlier in the year, a Tesla owner passed out while behind the wheel. Fortunately, Autopilot brought the vehicle to a stop in the middle of theÂ Oakland Bay Bridge.Â
Before we attempt to make the claim that Tesla and the Golden State both have serious problems with drunk driving, it should be said that DUIs are a nationwide issue. These reports simply could be the result of a high-profile vehicle being misused in a very specific way in a region that buys a lot of them. We would even hazard a guess that these kind of stories would be more commonplace if the technology existed in more automobiles.
As for the most recent encounter,Â Fox 2 KTVU reported that the California Highway Patrol arrested Alexander Samek of Los Altos after an officer saw him nodding off in his Tesla around 3:30 in the morning. Initially unresponsive,Â Officer Art Montiel said law enforcement drove in front of the Tesla in an attempt to force the vehicle to slow down and hopefully stop. ButÂ Samek awoke and pulled off the highway, stopping at aÂ Palo Alto gas station.Â From there, he was taken into custody at the jail in Redwood City by authorities.
An investigation is currently underway to determine whether or notÂ Samek’s vehicle was operating in Autopilot. However, it shouldn’t have much bearing on the case, as the system doesn’t absolve the driver of any responsibility. It’s still illegal to operate any motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol.
Only on @KTVU: We caught up to Alexander Samek, chair of the @CityofLosAltos planning commission, after his release from jail. He was arrested for DUI after being found asleep behind the wheel of a Tesla on Hwy 101, per @CHP_RedwoodCity. 4,515,6,7p @KTVU pic.twitter.com/lxPlMcVwCo
— Henry K. Lee (@henrykleeKTVU) November 30, 2018
[Image: Tesla Motors]