Another Tesla Driver Arrested for DUI While Using Autopilot

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
another tesla driver arrested for dui while using autopilot

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. 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 the Oakland Bay Bridge.

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, 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, 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. But Samek awoke and pulled off the highway, stopping at a Palo Alto gas station. From there, he was taken into custody at the jail in Redwood City by authorities.

An investigation is currently underway to determine whether or not 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

— Henry K. Lee (@henrykleeKTVU) November 30, 2018

[Image: Tesla Motors]

Join the conversation
  • Fred Fred on Dec 03, 2018

    So then what's the point of autopilot?

    • See 11 previous
    • SPPPP SPPPP on Dec 04, 2018

      "Any sufficiently advanced autopilot is indistinguishable from a mildly tipsy partygoer."

  • Prado Prado on Dec 03, 2018

    So... what was the reason for the traffic stop, if the car was in auto pilot. Did it do something wrong or illegal, or is this just your too often typical case of police profiling.

    • See 6 previous
    • DEVILLE88 DEVILLE88 on Dec 04, 2018

      @ktm I can get on whatever box i please. in most states you are guilty even if proven innocent. I understand what the report says, there is also the fact that police DO get a bonus for every arrest made(thats one reason why NYC jails are overloaded) if he was driving erratically sure, if was a menace to others on the ..sure. you are listening to one side of the story, you rarely if ever here the other side. also cops are trained to be profesional LIARS and in court.....just like when they commit murder They always walk scott free,they go home to their families and could give 2 $h!ts about the guy they arrested or his family. im just saying, if he nodded off thank GOD the car did take over. Obviously he wasnt asleep as he was able to pull over. now was he drunk? we dont know.

  • Crtfour I live in East Tennessee where most of the time driving is pretty low stress. But for work I have the misfortune of passing through Atlanta every 3-4 months. And passing through downtown you have to change lanes and merge so many times I still can't seem to keep it straight. On my last trip I ended up in an exit only lane ; the lane next to me where I had to get into was stopped so I was blocking the exit lane with this guy behind me blowing his horn and flashing his lights. I finally managed to get over finally allowing this guy to floor it and be on it's way. I consider myself a good driver with the exception of passing through there.
  • Pishta Those 80 B2000's were very Ford Courier like but the 81's had a completely new for Mazda dash. Less pods, more integration in one window. These didn't get the F motor until 84(?) only with the B2200 option. Single wall beds had lost of rust through issues. The 80 Quad headlamp grill was very rare, I dont rememeer seeing but one growing up.
  • FreedMike So it has transited out of existence here...
  • TheEndlessEnigma Self fulfilling prophesy. Ford spends virtually nothing on sales and marketing for the Transit....then scratches their collective heads not understand why it doesn't sell to their assumed objectives. If you do not market the vehicle, it will not sell. Pretty simple to understand really. Ford sure is working hard to make itself a niche automobile company, trucks and SUV's only. But that's OK, Kia/Hyundai/Toyota/Honda and yes even Volkswagen & Nissan are more than happy to sell to those customers Ford is apparently happy to walk away from.
  • NJRide I would think this segment would have a following but I guess not enough of a price difference with larger vans and probably too unrefined to be a sort of minivan alternative