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Police Catch Tesla Autopilot Driving Home Sleeping Drunk | News & Opinion

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It took the police officers in two vehicles seven minutes to outsmart Tesla’s Autopilot system and finally stop the Model S as the drunk driver continued to sleep behind the wheel. Does this count as a DUI, reckless driving, or both?


Tesla Model S 2018

One day in the not too distant future, sleeping at the wheel will become commonplace because we’ll all be traveling around in autonomous vehicles. However, in 2018 that’s not the case, even if Tesla Autopilot is capable of driving a drunk man home.

As HotHardware reports, California Highway Patrol officers recently spotted a Tesla Model S driving south on Highway 101 with what looked to be a person asleep behind the wheel. Sure enough, when officers looked more closely they discovered a man who was both asleep and unresponsive. That man was 45-year-old Alexander Samek, a Los Altos planning commissioner, and he was drunk.

Tesla’s Autopilot is quite an advanced autonomous driving aid, but it’s not fully-autonomous and requires an alert driver behind the wheel at all times. Samek had decided in his drunken state to entrust his drive home to Tesla’s system and clearly relaxed a little too much during the journey.

The problem officers had when they couldn’t wake Samek was how to go about stopping the car. In the end it took two patrol cars around seven minutes to bring it to a halt. First the officers slowed traffic down behind the vehicle to create a gap, then one patrol vehicle drove in front of the car while the other drove behind and slowly lowered their speed. In the end, the Model S was brought to a standstill in the middle of the highway thinking it was stuck in a traffic jam.

Samek was then woken up with some loud knocks on the driver’s side door. He was asked to carry out a field sobriety test and then promptly arrested. If this is Samek’s first DUI then he faces up to six months in jail, fines and penalties of up to $1,000, and a potential six month license suspension. However, he may also face additional charges because he was asleep at the wheel which may count as reckless driving.

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