An underage teenager driving a Tesla without a driver’s license or owner’s permit got creative when police stopped the car – she decided to jump into the back seat and claim the Tesla was autonomous.
The incident occurred near Daytona Beach, Florida, where a Flagler County sheriff’s deputy stopped a Tesla Model Y that was driving on the wrong side of the road.
After the vehicle came to a stop, he backed slowly towards the police cruiser.
When the officer went to the driver’s window to see what the problem was, he found no one 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 driving alone.
While Tesla sells a “full autonomous driving package,” the full-featured version of the package is only being tested in the “beta version” with a few thousand cars, and it requires someone in the driver’s seat. The responsibility always rests with the driver.
The officer quickly determined that the teens were lying to hide the fact that they weren’t supposed to drive the electric car.
The teens apparently drove from Charleston, South Carolina, more than 300 miles away, and the driver’s mother thought they were at her grandmother’s house.
Sheriff Rick Staly commented on the situation. [via the Daytona Beach News-Journal]:
These children are very lucky that no one was injured and their actions had no more serious consequences. It doesn’t matter if you are driving a ‘smart car’, driving without a license is still illegal. I hope these children have learned a valuable lesson and I am grateful that no one was injured and that their vehicle suffered only minimal damage.
The “driver” ended up getting a ticket for driving without a license and the teens were left in the custody of the Florida Department of Children and Families overnight, as the parents were unable to get there immediately.
It’s not the first time drivers have tried to blame Tesla’s autopilot for poor driving or illegal driving.
In 2018, a drunk driver tried to get out of a DUI claiming that his Tesla was driving alone.
Tesla’s driver assistance features in its Autopilot and Total Autonomous Driving packages are still considered “level 2” on the autonomous driving scale, and should always be used with the driver’s full attention and the driver ready to drink control at all times.
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