Tesla Driver Receives Felony For Fatal Autopilot Collision

Chris Teague
by Chris Teague

tesla driver receives felony for fatal autopilot collision

Tesla drivers abusing Autopilot and the company’s “full self-driving” tech have almost become a meme at this point, but there are very real consequences when things go wrong. A California man was behind the wheel of a Tesla Model S in 2019 when it collided with another car, killing the two people inside. The Tesla was using Autopilot at the time, and the driver recently pleaded no contest to two counts of vehicular manslaughter.

Kevin George Aziz Riad was sentenced to probation, 31 days of work service, 100 hours of community service, a hospital/morgue program, and 90 days of house arrest. Riad and his Tesla ran a red light before slamming into the other car at 74 mph. A Tesla engineer testified that no brakes were applied and that Riad’s hands were on the wheel.

This is believed to be the first felony prosecution against someone using partially autonomous driving technology. The question of liability for autonomous vehicles is a touchy one and threatens to pump the brakes on an industry that has been moving full speed ahead. Some automakers have toyed with the idea of accepting liability for crashes that happen with driving assistants active, but many of the highest-profile Tesla crashes occurred due to driver negligence or using the technologies without following safety precautions. 

[Image: Canadianphotgrapher56 via Shutterstock]

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6 of 37 comments
  • Mike-NB2 Mike-NB2 on Jul 18, 2023

    Not applicable in this case, but in Canada, the standard for criminal negligence is a "marked departure from" from what a reasonable person would do. Having some experience in criminal law (as a lawyer), I don't think it's much of a stretch to guess that he'd be found guilty of criminal negligence causing death if that happened here with the same facts. Given that he killed two people, he'd be looking at a sentence in excess of two years in prison. The sentence here seem unreasonably light for the level of culpability and the outcome.

    Maybe there were other circumstances involved and the prosecutor didn't think a conviction was likely, but that doesn't seem plausible.

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  • RHD RHD on Jul 19, 2023

    If this were an ICE vehicle with the cruise control on, then it would have not made the news.

    Still, the driver got a slap on the wrist. The civil lawyers are circling, and both the driver and Tesla will be involved in litigation for years.

    • SCE to AUX SCE to AUX on Jul 19, 2023

      Not Tesla. Level 2 autonomy absolves them of guilt, but media types don't understand that.

      Once they claim Level 5, then Tesla becomes a legal target.

  • SCE to AUX SCE to AUX on Jul 19, 2023

    The NHTSA should ban all autonomous systems until some brave mfr claims they have a Level 5 product.

  • Conundrum Conundrum on Jul 19, 2023

    Call me when Tesla's all video camera sensor "autonomous" Autopilot is approved for Level 3, let alone Level 5. There are not enough IT professionals in the world who could be gathered together under one roof at the same time who could overcome that ridiculous handicap. Hell, even Tesla autowipers are a sh!t show. If you can't eve n get those things to work as well as any cheap Honda, imagine the deep engineering talent that's gone into Autopilot.

    Well, OTOH, maybe they could just query ChatGPT or OpenAiI and get an BS answer, cobbled up out of scraping everything everyone's ever written and certified through an army of AI trained and educated chimps eating bananas. It'd be bound to work, hey, hey, and bonus, could write a Shakespeare-style sonnet on tender love for you at the same time, or invent a new system of participatory democratic government that doesn't involve lobbying by big business and the likes of dear Elon elbowing regular citizens out of the way. AI is marvelous. Ask it how to combat high food and rent prices. The results are beyond remarkable.