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Instagram influencer arrested for backseat driving a Tesla, report says

He was arrested, released and immediately went back to doing it again.

- 01:24
Tesla Model 3

This is not an autonomous vehicle.


There's no beating around the bush here: If you're the kind of person who turns Autopilot on in your Tesla and then gets in another seat while the car is moving, you're an idiot. Beyond that, you're a danger to the rest of us on the road.

Both of these labels certainly apply to Bay Area rich-person-on-Instagram Param Sharma, better known as Lavish. Not only did he get busted by the California Highway Patrol for riding in the back seat of a Tesla Model 3 with nobody at the wheel, once he got out of jail, he went right back to doing it again, according to a report published Wednesday by Electrek.

According to a statement by the CHP, Sharma was arrested on two counts of reckless driving and one count of disobeying a peace officer and remanded to Santa Rita jail. He was released soon after and contacted by the local news station KTVU. He gave an interview where he stated that he went home from jail by riding in the backseat of a driverless Tesla while he and his friend sat in the back.

Normally we'd criticize Tesla for its deliberately misleading naming conventions where Autopilot and especially Full Self-Driving are concerned. (As a reminder, Autopilot is a Level 2 driver-assistance system and there are no self-driving cars for sale today, no matter what Tesla's branding says.) Even so, these incidents with Mr. Sharma go well beyond what even Tesla could be held accountable for. It's endangering people's lives for social media clout, and it's unspeakably stupid.

For its part, KTVU claimed that Tesla has a Level 5-capable system, which is, again, false. Tesla no longer operates a PR department, so the company is not able to comment.

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