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Tesla driver who appeared to be asleep while car was on autopilot pleads no contest

Posted at 5:14 PM, Jun 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-30 18:14:55-04

KENOSHA — An Illinois man who was cited for "inattentive driving" after a Kenosha County Sheriff's Office deputy spotted him "asleep behind the wheel" of a Tesla car last month has agreed to plead no contest in court.

Court records show the driver paid the $187.90 citation in Kenosha County Court last week. TMJ4 News is not identifying the driver as he is not criminally charged in the incident.

As TMJ4 News reported on May 18, the Kenosha County Sheriff's Office said it was dispatched to the area of northbound I-94 near the Illinois/Wisconsin state line for a report of a Tesla driver who appeared to be asleep. Officials say the deputy approached the car as it passed STH 158 on I-94 just before 8 a.m.

The deputy said the driver appeared to be asleep and tried to initiate a traffic stop, activating his lights and sirens. The driver did not pull over for two miles.

The incident was all caught on dash and body cameras. When the driver apparently wakes up, he starts to pull over.

Authorities say the Tesla was going 82 miles an hour before the driver pulled over.

In body camera footage from the Kenosha County Sheriff's department, a deputy can be heard telling the driver why he was pulled over.

"The reason I'm stopping you is I followed you for about two miles and you were sleeping. You were totally like this in the car. Why would we drive like that?" the deputy said.

The 38-year-old man denied being asleep at the wheel and did not have any signs of impairment.

The driver told the deputy, "I'm on my way to work. I'm on my way, I'm no sleeping. Like I said, I'm just tired."

The car had autopilot capability and mandates that despite having those capabilities, Tesla says the driver should keep their hands on the steering wheel at all times and maintain control.

The driver was issued a citation for inattentive driving, officials said.

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