Tesla Model 3 owner busted for the second time ‘driving’ while sitting in the back seat

Dear fanatical Tesla owners: Can y’all please stop doing this?

A Tesla driver in California has been arrested for the second time in a month after allegedly ‘driving’ on a freeway while sitting in the back seat as the vehicle was operating in autonomous mode.

And a day after the incident, Tesla remains conspicuously silent about any possible “over the air” remedial upgrades it might install in its cars to prevent drivers from taking such risks in future.

Last month, two occupants of a Tesla were killed in a crash in Texas after the driver was reportedly operating the car from the back seat.

Overnight, highway patrol officers in California arrested a Tesla driver after other motorists called 911 to report seeing the vehicle on a freeway with the sole occupant in the back seat.

Photo credit for the main image and the above image: California Highway Patrol Oakland division Facebook page.

Highway patrol officers from the San Francisco Bay Area responded to the reports from other motorists and stopped the vehicle.

A statement on the California Highway Patrol Oakland division Facebook page said 25-year-old Param Sharma had been arrested for “reckless driving of a Tesla while in the back seat”.

“Sharma was arrested without incident and booked into Santa Rita Jail on two counts of reckless driving and disobeying a Peace Officer. The Tesla was towed from the scene for evidence and this incident remains under investigation,” the police statement said.

Police said they received multiple 911 calls about 6:30pm on 10 May 2021 local time “regarding an individual seated in the back seat of a Tesla Model 3 without anyone seated in the driver’s seat”.

Above: A Channel Nine news report on the deadly Tesla crash in Texas last month. 

“The vehicle was reported to be traveling eastbound on I-80 across the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge toward the city of Oakland,” the statement continued.

A highway patrol officer at the Bay Bridge toll plaza spotted the Tesla and “confirmed that a single occupant was seated in the backseat, and initiated an enforcement stop”.  

“The officer observed the individual move into the driver’s seat. The occupant then brought the Tesla to a stop on the shoulder of I-80 eastbound just west of Powell Street, where the officer arrested Sharma,” the statement from CHP Oakland division said.

“Prior to this arrest, members of the public had captured video of someone resembling Sharma operating his vehicle in the same reckless manner, and the CHP’s Oakland Area had cited Sharma on April 27 for similar behaviour,” the Facebook post said.

Joshua Dowling has been a motoring journalist for more than 20 years, spending most of that time working for The Sydney Morning Herald (as motoring editor and one of the early members of the Drive team), and then News Corp Australia. He has been with CarAdvice since late 2018 and is a World Car of the Year judge. 

Joshua covers motoring news, car reviews and comparison tests – and has a keen interest in all aspects of the automotive industry, including price movements, sales data and consumer protection. He assesses in excess of 150 cars per year to stay current with new models. 

When working for News Corp Australia he covered the factory shutdowns of the Ford, Toyota and Holden factories in 2016 and 2017 – and the debate leading up to those decisions, including interviewing global executives in Detroit. Dowling also broke the news in early 2020 that Holden would exit Australia for good, ahead of other mainstream media and motoring media outlets. 

Dowling has a passion for affordable cars and commercial vehicles and, in particular, double cab utes. He believes electric cars will eventually become a part of our motoring lives – once cost and range anxiety issues are resolved. 

See all of Joshua’s articles

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