Nothing like going for a highway cruise drunk and passed out.
According to Fox 2 KTVU, the California Highway Patrol arrested a 45-year-old man early last Friday morning on suspicion of DUI. No big deal, right? Well, the guy was driving a Tesla Model S engaged in "Autopilot" mode as it cruised down Highway 101 near Redwood City, Palo Alto. Alexander Samek of Los Altos is the driver and he was taken into custody and later released. Two on-duty police officers noticed the Tesla was traveling at about 70 mph, which is slightly over the speed limit. They then pulled up alongside the Tesla and noticed Samek was drowsy and nearly asleep at the wheel. Attempts to get Samek to stop were not successful but the officers finally succeeded to get the car to slow down.
That's when Samek woke up. He then pulled off the freeway and pulled into, of all places, a Shell gas station, where he was arrested. It was then that the officers had suspicion to believe Samek had set the car on Autopilot, but this won't be confirmed until the investigation is completed. It's actually not hard to find out because all Teslas contain a black box of stored data. One call to Tesla requesting that specific bit of data because of an alleged DUI ought to provide a definitive answer. Tesla has not yet responded to comment by local media.
However, the California Highway Patrol made clear that Autopilot is a feature drivers should only use when they are fully awake, sober, and have both hands on the wheel. It is not full autonomy.
This isn't the first time, nor will it be the last, that a drunk driver turns on Autopilot in their Tesla and hits the road. For example, last August another California resident was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence in his Tesla after he crashed into a fire truck. And then there was the driver from last January who actually passed out in his Tesla while it drove in Autopilot mode across the San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge. Remember folks, drunk driving is drunk driving and there's no such thing (yet) as a fully autonomous car. Hat tip to Drexl!