A Bay Area Tesla driver who was arrested after putting his car on autopilot and sitting in the back seat, describes it as a “magical experience” and says he’s unapologetic.
The California Highway Patrol, however, said his actions are illegal and asked residents who see him on the road in a similar situation to contact the authorities.
“It’s actually very normal for me to sit in the back like that,” said Param Sharma, 25, who was seen on video on the freeway in Oakland last weekend.
A couple days later, someone else spotted him on the Bay Bridge heading to Oakland and called the CHP.
"Thanks to the public, for all those law abiding citizens who called in 911, one of our motor officers just happened to be at the exact location at the exact time, and we were able to remove this subject off the roadways,” said Custodio Lopez of the CHP.
He added that the motor officer watched as Sharma crawled into the front seat to bring the car to a stop.
He was arrested and charged with two counts of reckless driving and disobeying a peace officer and his Tesla was impounded.
But almost as soon as he was released, Sharma took to his Instagram page and uploaded a video that shows a driverless Tesla on The Embarcadero in San Francisco.
Once again, he's in the back seat.
"I just got out of jail, I already got a Tesla,” he said in the video.
Sharma said he’s not worried about losing his license and figures driverless car technology will be here soon enough to shuttle him around where he needs to go.
For now, he plans to keep doing what he's doing.
When asked, Sharma said he isn't afraid of consequences.
"I don't think you can go to jail, man,” he said. “It's not really that serious, because I'm not breaking any laws. I'm not dangerously operating the car."
To be clear, it's illegal in California for a driver not to be sitting behind the wheel while a car is operating.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating 23 crashes where drivers may have been using autopilot.
And according to attorney Steven Clark - if Sharma continues thumbing his nose at authorities, the district attorney could ask he be held in jail until his trial.
“When I sit in the back seat, it's like a magical experience. To just see a driverless car finally work,” said Sharma.