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Tesla Driver Detained after Turning on Autopilot and Not Sitting behind the Wheel

Junie Sihlangu
May 13, 2021
09:30 P.M.
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A California man was recently arrested when people reported him for allowing his Tesla to self-drive while he was in the backseat. Luckily, the stunt the man pulled didn’t result in any injuries.

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On May 10, 2021, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) received several 911 calls from concerned citizens at around 6:34 p.m. They reported that a person was allowing their Tesla Model 3 to self-drive unsupervised.

The person was said to be in the vehicle's back seat while driving in the Bay Area on Interstate 80 (I-80). They were driving eastbound on I-80 across the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge toward Oakland.

Two police officers wearing their police gear while walking in the street | Photo: Shutterstock/Mademoiselle N

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Before this incident, citizens recorded what appeared to be the same suspect in the same vehicle. The person was seen in the backseat of the car, in this instance, in CHP’s Oakland Area.

On April 27, the CHP cited the driver for the bad manner in which he drove, according to a Facebook post by the CHP.  A motor officer located the Tesla in the recent incident at the Bay Bridge Toll Plaza.

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The officer confirmed that the driver was indeed in the backseat while the vehicle was on autopilot and forced them to stop. That’s when the driver moved from the backseat to the driver’s seat.

The suspect stopped the Tesla on the shoulder of I-80 eastbound, west of Powell Street. On their Facebook post, the CHP revealed that the suspect they arrested was Param Sharma, 25.

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He was charged with disobeying a Peace Officer and two counts of reckless driving. Sharma was booked into Santa Rita Jail but released on Tuesday and is due to appear in court on July 6, 2021.

His vehicle was towed from the scene for evidence while the police continue investigating the case. MTV once called Sharma "Instagram's richest teen," and he appears set on driving on autopilot.

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On an Instagram account, videos and photos of Sharma driving on autopilot can be seen. The young man could be seen flaunting his wealth and driving his vehicle from the backseat while listening to music.

Sharma’s run-ins with the law aren’t a new thing. In 2014, he was arrested for selling a stolen iPhone on Craigslist and had to serve a 90-day sentence, according to “MTV’s” website at the time.

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He’s broken California’s Penal Code 485 PC, which states that one who’s is guilty could face up to one year in county jail. Breaking this particular law could also see you paying a $1,000 maximum fine.

In a similar but fatal incident last month, two men died after their Tesla crashed into a tree and caught fire in the Carlton Woods. Police believe the vehicle may have been on autopilot at the time of the accident.

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