Tesla Driver Arrested After Allegedly Riding in Backseat with Car on Autopilot

The driver Param Sharma was cited by the California Highway Patrol for a similar reason last month

Param Sharma
Photo: Santa Rita Jail

A Tesla Model 3 owner was arrested Monday after he was spotted allegedly in the backseat without anyone in the driver's seat while the car was driving itself.

The vehicle owner, Param Sharma, was charged with "two counts of reckless driving and disobeying a Peace Officer," the California Highway Patrol (CHP) said in a statement.

Sharma, 25, was spotted in the backseat going eastbound on I-80 toward Oakland, according to CHP.

Several 911 calls were made about the driver and a CHP motor officer "confirmed that a single occupant was seated in the backseat, and initiated an enforcement stop."

Tesla Model 3
Salwan Georges/The Washington Post via Getty

During the stop, CHP said that Sharma allegedly moved to the driver's seat before pulling over.

"The Tesla was towed from the scene for evidence and this incident remains under investigation," CHP said.

The incident was also not Sharma's first.

"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 behavior," the CHP statement concluded.

Sharma – once dubbed "Instagram's richest teen" by MTV – was released on Tuesday after being booked into Santa Rita Jail and is due to appear in court on July 6, KTVU reported.

It's unclear if the 25-year-old has obtained legal representation or if he has entered a plea at this time.

The driver also told the outlet he plans to continue using the car from the backseat and declared that everyone will do the same by 2022.

"I'm gonna go in the back seat right now. You feel me? I'm waiting for my car to charge," Sharma told KTVU.

He added, "I've been brake-checked before really hard, and the car stopped. The car came to a complete stop."

Tesla did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request to comment.

A video on Instagram posted Tuesday that appears to show Sharma in the backseat of the car along with a device.

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Despite the vehicle's advanced Autopilot and Full Self-Driving (FSD) capability cars, the latter of which is in beta, Tesla's website states that the vehicles "are intended for use with a fully attentive driver, who has their hands on the wheel and is prepared to take over at any moment."

Musk, 49, tweeted Tuesday that he believes the FSD models will reach wide beta very soon.

"I think we're maybe a month or two away from wide beta. But these things are hard to predict accurately," the Tesla CEO wrote. "The work we had to do for pure vision driving was needed for FSD, so much more progress has been made than it would seem."

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