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After Arrest, Driverless Tesla Guy Does It Again

California's Param Sharma defiant despite recent fatal crash in Texas
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted May 12, 2021 6:04 AM CDT

(Newser) – A man has been arrested after repeatedly riding in the backseat of a Tesla in Autopilot mode, with no one in the driver's seat—something he says he'll continue to do regardless. California Highway Patrol said it was aware of "an incident involving a man riding in the backseat of a Tesla traveling on Bay Area roadways" in a Saturday statement. On Monday, after several people called 911, a CHP officer spotted a driverless Tesla Model 3 with an individual in the backseat heading eastbound across the San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge toward Oakland in medium to heavy traffic. "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," CHP said. Param Sharma, 25, was booked into Santa Rita Jail on two counts of reckless driving and disobeying a peace officer, per KPIX.

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He'd also been cited for similar behavior on April 27, per the outlet. After his release from jail on Tuesday, Sharma told KTVU that he would continue using his Tesla on Autopilot, without being in the driver's seat. "I'm gonna go in the backseat right now," he said, adding, "I've been brake-checked before really hard, and the car … came to a complete stop." He then posted a video to Instagram showing him again sitting in the backseat of the moving Tesla, touching the steering wheel with his foot. He appeared to be reading an article about his arrest. "B---h tell the chp I bought my license," he wrote in the caption. Just last month, a 2019 Tesla Model S that "no one was driving" crashed into a tree in Texas, killing a man in the passenger seat and another in the backseat, per NBC News. The National Transportation Safety Board continues to investigate. (Read more reckless driving stories.)

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