Another Tesla Owner Gets A DUI Charge
Tesla's vehicles may have an autopilot mode which the company boasts a safety level potentially superior to a human driver but in its current state, the feature is hardly a replacement for human vigilance. Still, it seems that the quality-of-life feature is prone to abuse by some particularly reckless Tesla owners with the latest incident happening just recently.
According to Car Buzz, Tesla owner Alexander Samek was apprehended by law enforcement officers of the California highway patrol for potentially leaving his Tesla Model S in autopilot mode while he was intoxicated due to alcohol. The publication notes that the law enforcement officers attempted to flag down Samek as his vehicle was driving at 70 mph - a speed slightly over the speed limit for Highway 101 near Redwood City, Palo Alto.
Samek's inebriated condition became apparent when the law enforcement officers were unable to flag him down for speeding. The officers also noticed that Samek was in no condition to drive when they pulled up beside him. The law enforcement officers were eventually able to apprehend Samek and his Tesla Model S when the intoxicated driver eventually pulled into a gas station.
Both Car Buzz and Fortune note that Alexander Samek's incident is not the first time that a Tesla owner was involved in an altercation for driving under the influence while potentially leaving their vehicle in autopilot mode. An incident earlier in August actually resulted in a vehicular accident when a Tesla owner in crashed into a San Jose firetruck. The publications also note that a January incident involved a Tesla owner passed out on the wheel while driving through the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.
The California Highway Patrol reminds drivers of semi-autonomous vehicles such as those manufactured by Tesla that the car's autopilot mode may help in making drives easier but drivers should still be responsible for maintaining control of the vehicle. But despite being able to keep their hands on the wheel, it seems that Tesla drivers will have to be reminded that autopilot mode does not remove culpability for a pedestrian or vehicular accident away from their hands due to intoxication.
Tesla's own implementation of the autopilot feature emphasizes that despite the automation, drivers should have their hands on the wheel when on the road. The company is so dedicated to reminding its customers that human vigilance is very important that they have added a feature which constantly reminds its drivers about attention when autopilot mode is turned on regardless of how potentially annoying the feature may be.