Man arrested for riding in back seat of driverless Tesla gets out of jail, buys another Tesla, and does it again

‘I have unlimited money to blow on Teslas. If you take my Tesla away, I will get another Tesla’

Akshita Jain
Friday 14 May 2021 11:53
Backseat Tesla driver gets out of jail, buys new Tesla and does it again
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A San Francisco man who was arrested for riding in the back seat of a driverless Tesla pulled the same stunt again in a new car he bought shortly after being released from jail.

Param Sharma, 25, was arrested for reckless driving and disobeying a peace officer on Monday, the California Highway Patrol said. He was booked into Santa Rita jail and the Tesla was towed from the scene for evidence, the police said.

But soon after his release from jail, Mr Sharma reportedly arrived for an interview with Bay Area news station KTVU on Wednesday riding in the back seat of a driverless Tesla, again.

“I’m very rich,” he said when asked by KTVU if he purchased a new car after the previous one was seized by the authorities.

On Instagram, he posted a video in which he can be heard saying that he got out of jail and bought another Tesla. Mr Sharma has uploaded other videos on his social media account which show him in the backseat of a moving vehicle.

He is set to appear in court on 6 July. Steven Clark, a Santa Clara County-based legal analyst, told KTVU that Mr Sharma will likely get a stern warning.

In response, Mr Sharma said: “I’ll just get a new Tesla every time. I have unlimited money to blow on Teslas. If you take my Tesla away, I will get another Tesla.”

The California Highway Patrol is considering a full investigation into him. Under California law, it is illegal for an autonomous vehicle to operate without a person behind the wheel, officer John Fransen of the highway patrol told The New York Times.

“We are recommending charges to the district attorney’s office. It’s an active investigation so police report can’t be released,” a spokesperson for the patrol told Motherboard. The spokesperson also said that they are conducting a thorough investigation that will “consider the possibility of previous incidents and obviously his social media.”

The patrol said that before the arrest, Bay Area residents had also captured a video of someone resembling Mr Sharma operating his vehicle in the same “reckless manner.” CHP’s Oakland Area had cited him on 27 April for similar behaviour, it said.

Tesla’s autopilot technology has come under increasing scrutiny after a series of recent accidents. The US auto safety agency, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, has said that it is investigating about two dozen crashes of Tesla vehicles.

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