CHP arrest Tesla driver for alleged DUI, investigating whether car was on 'Autopilot'

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The CHP arrested a man on suspicion of DUI and are now investigating whether he had his Tesla on autopilot. The arrest was made at a Shell gas station in Palo Alto. Nov. 30, 2018

The California Highway Patrol arrested a 45-year-old man early Friday morning on suspicion of DUI after the officer saw him nodding off in his Tesla, which may have been been motoring along highway on "Autopilot." 

Officer Art Montiel said there were no injuries or damage reported, but Alexander Samek of Los Altos was taken into custody at the jail in Redwood City.

The City of Los Altos confirms Samek is currently the Chair of the Los Altos Planning Commission. The city did not have any additional comments. 

Efforts to reach Samek were not immediately successful on Friday. 

Montiel said that at about 3:30 a.m., officers noticed a Tesla driving on US Highway 101 south of Whipple Road in Redwood City at about 70 mph, slightly over the speed limit.

When officers pulled up to the Tesla, the noticed the driver was very drowsy and possibly sleeping at the wheel, Montiel said. 

The officers tried to get Samek to stop, but he did not. Officers then drove in front of the Tesla to get the car to slow down and finally, the driver woke up, Montiel said. 

At that point, Samek pulled off the freeway and made his way to Embarcadero Road in Palo Alto. The driver eventually stopped at the Shell gas station there, where he was arrested, Montiel said.  

Montiel said "it appears" that the Tesla was being driven in the autonomous mode, but he will not be able to say that definitively until the investigation is competed.

The Autopilot function should only be used to assist drivers when they are awake, sober and have both hands on the wheel, Montiel said.

Telsa did not immediately respond for comment on Friday.