Published: Tue, December 04, 2018
Finance | By Loren Pratt

DUI suspect caught sleeping in Tesla traveling 70 miles per hour, officers say

DUI suspect caught sleeping in Tesla traveling 70 miles per hour, officers say

CHP issued a statement that said officers couldn't confirm which technology was active - but clearly the driver was not.

The quick-thinking cops in Palo Alto chose to bring the freaky situation to an end as quickly and safely as possible: they first established a moving perimeter far behind the Tesla to keep other drivers safe before one of the officers, who suspected that the vehicle's autopilot system might be engaged, drove in front of the auto and began gradually slowing down. The driver showed no response when the officers activated their emergency lights and sirens while directly behind the Tesla in an attempt to pull it over.

Several miles from the first contact, the Tesla slowed to a full stop just north of the offramp at Embarcadero Road. Officers could then finally question the dozing driver, who turned out to be 45-year old Alexander Samek, who serves on the Los Altos Planning Commission. He failed a field sobriety test and has been charged with driving under the influence.

The cameras and computer algorithms of the vehicle's self-driving system did their job, slowing to avoid ramming the officer's auto.


Officers have yet to confirm that the car's autopilot function was switched on but suspect the auto was on driver-assist mode that provides semi-autonomous capability.

When activating the Autopilot features, Tesla reminds drivers that they are responsible for the vehicle and they need to be ready to take control at all time.

The Autopilot system in Tesla vehicles alerts drivers if it detects they're not holding the wheel. If the driver provides no response at all, the vehicle is supposed to start slowing down on its own within a few minutes, before coming to a complete stop and turning on its hazard lights.

What's curious is how the Autopilot stayed activated for as long as it did in this case; Tesla CEO Elon Musk says the company is looking into the specifics of this situation.

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