An underage teen who was driving a Tesla without a driver’s license or the owner’s permission got creative when the car was stopped by the police: She decided to jump in the back seat and claim the Tesla was self-driving.
The incident happened near Daytona Beach, Florida, where a Flagler County Sheriff’s deputy pulled over a Tesla Model Y driving on the wrong side of the road.
After the vehicle stopped, it slowly backed up into the police cruiser.
When the deputy walked to the driver’s window to see what the problem was, he didn’t find anyone in the driver’s seat.
Instead, the police officer found a 14-year-old girl and a 15-year-old girl, one in the back seat and one in the front passenger seat.
Both girls claimed that no one was driving the vehicle and that the Tesla was self-driving.
While Tesla does sell a “Full Self-Driving package,” the feature-complete version of the package is only being tested in “Beta version” with a few thousand cars, and it requires someone in the driver’s seat. The responsibility always stays with the driver.
The deputy quickly determined that the teen girls were lying to hide the fact that they weren’t supposed to be driving the electric car.
The teen girls apparently drove all the way from Charleston, South Carolina, more than 300 miles away, and the mother of the driver thought that they were at her grandmother’s.
Sheriff Rick Staly commented on the situation [via the Daytona Beach News-Journal]:
These kids are very lucky that no one was hurt and their actions didn’t have more serious consequences. It doesn’t matter if you are driving a ‘smart car,’ driving without a license is still against the law. I hope these kids have learned a valuable lesson and I am grateful that no one was hurt and only minimal damage occurred to their vehicle.
The “driver” ended up receiving a citation for driving without a license and the teens were left in the Florida Department of Children and Family’s custody for the night since the parents couldn’t get there immediately.
It’s not the first time that drivers have tried to blame Tesla’s Autopilot for bad or illegal driving.
In 2018, a drunk driver tried to get out of a DUI by claiming that his Tesla was driving itself.
Tesla’s driver-assist features under its Autopilot and Full Self-Driving packages are still considered “level 2” on the self-driving scale, and they should always be used with full driver attention and the driver being ready to take control at all times.
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