The California Highway Patrol is investigating if a Tesla Model S was using its driver assistance function after its driver was arrested for DUI on U.S. Highway 101 in Palo Alto early Friday.
The driver, identified by Redwood City police officers as 45-year-old Alexander Samek from Los Altos, was seen falling asleep behind the wheel while driving at about 70 mph on southbound Highway 101, CHP officers said.
Officers tried to wake Samek but ultimately had to slow the Tesla down using a patrol car and then took him into custody for DUI charges.
Samek was arrested about seven miles from where officers first spotted the driver looking drowsy behind the wheel.
Samek is listed as the vice chair of the Los Altos Planning Commission on the Los Altos city website and is elected through Sept. 2020. His LinkedIn profile shows he is also involved in the hotel and hospitality industry in the Bay Area.
Officials are investigating the possibility of the Model S being in autopilot mode, which is something Tesla touts as one of its big features.
If the car was in autopilot, it would not be the first time a drunk driver tried to use auto-pilot as a designated driver.
In August, a Monterey resident was arrested after crashing his Tesla into a San Jose fire truck. He told officers that he thought he had autopilot on.
Back in January, CHP officers found a man passed out behind the wheel of his Tesla on the Bay Bridge. When he was arrested for DUI, he told officers he had put his car in autopilot. His blood alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit.
Last month, Tesla took the "full self-driving option" for its car off its website, with CEO Elon Musk saying it was causing too much confusion for customers.
.@CHP_RedwoodCity is investigating whether this 45yo #LosAltos man had his #Tesla in #autopilot when he was spotted by officers looking asleep behind the wheel at 70mph on Hwy101s near Whipple. He was arrested on charges of #DUI. pic.twitter.com/W5Pxn2AAyM
— Kris Sanchez (@KrisNBC) November 30, 2018