45-year-old Alexander Samek, of Los Altos, was asleep while behind the wheel of a Tesla Model S on Highway 101 early Friday was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol.
according to California Highway Patrol, the driver had the Tesla autopilot on at the time he was pulled over but needs to complete its investigation until making a final determination.
Officer Art Montiel said that a CHP officer noticed a Tesla driving south on Highway 101 near Whipple Road at about 70 mph, About 3:30 a.m., The officer discovered that the driver appeared to be sleeping at the wheel.
the officer turned the patrol car’s lights and siren in an attempt to wake up the driver, the latter did not respond.
the CHP officer drove in front of the Tesla in an effort to slow down the vehicle, Montiel said. The CHP officer determined if the Tesla’s driver assist function was on, the car would slow down when it sensed a vehicle in front of it.
while another officer was doing a traffic break behind the Tesla, in order to stop other vehicles from traveling past the car.
the Tesla came to a stop in one of the middle lanes of Highway 101. Officers woke up the driver, put him in a patrol car and drove him to a nearby Shell gas station on the Embarcadero in Palo Alto. The driver failed a field sobriety test and was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence.
Montiel said it appears that the Tesla was being driven in the driver assist mode, but he could not say definitively until the investigation is completed.
“What we know is that people who are using driver assist mode need to know they are responsible and aware of their surroundings while the vehicle is in motion,” Montiel said.