California

Drunk driver slept as his Tesla drove itself down highway at 70 mph, Calif. cops say

Here’s what you need to know about electric vehicles

The United States has one of the largest electric vehicle fleets in the world. This video breaks down all the numbers on EVs.
Up Next
The United States has one of the largest electric vehicle fleets in the world. This video breaks down all the numbers on EVs.

A Northern California man was arrested Friday after he was caught sleeping and drunk behind the wheel of his Tesla, which was zooming down the highway, police said.

California Highway Patrol officers said they noticed 45-year-old Alexander Samek of Los Altos napping in the driver’s seat around 3:30 a.m. when officers drove next to him on Highway 101 heading south, KCBS reports. His grey Tesla Model S was going 70 miles per hour in a 65 zone.

Officers said nothing they did would rouse the man — not flashing police lights or blaring sirens, according to KCBS. Finally an officer had to make bumper-to-bumper contact to stop him.

“One of the officers basically ended up going in front of the vehicle and basically tried to slow it down,” California Highway Patrol spokesman Art Montiel told the radio station.

The Tesla pulled over on the roadway and Samek was taken to a Palo Alto gas station, ABC 7 reports. Samek was arrested on charges of driving under the influence after he failed a field sobriety test, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

Read Next

The incident ended roughly seven miles from the spot where officers initially realized the Tesla driver was fast asleep, according to NBC Bay Area.

Officers said they suspect the autopilot feature of the car was being used, the Chronicle reports. But Tesla warns that the technology isn’t the same as a truly self-driving car, telling drivers to hold on to the steering wheel even when the autopilot function is engaged.

“It’s great that we have this technology,” Montiel said, according to the Mountain View Voice. “However, we need to remind people that ... even though this technology is available, they need to make sure they know they are responsible for maintaining control of the vehicle.”

Samek serves on the Los Altos Planning Commission, NBC reported.

Tesla’s autopilot feature has gotten other Californians in trouble, too.

Earlier this year, a man was arrested on the Bay Bridge, which connects San Francisco and Oakland, after highway patrol officers said the driver was drunk and asleep behind the wheel.

The driver “explained Tesla had been set on autopilot,” according to police.

The man was charged with driving under the influence.

Related stories from Sacramento Bee

  Comments