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Tesla Driver In UK Penalized For Using Autopilot From Passenger Seat

LONDON (CBS SF) – A Tesla owner in the United Kingdom had his driving privileges suspended after admitting to using the company's Autopilot feature while sitting in the passenger's seat on a crowded highway.

According to BBC News, 39-year-old Bhavesh Patel of Nottingham pleaded guilty to dangerous driving.

Authorities in Hertfordshire, northwest of London, said in a statement that witnesses spotted Patel on the M1 motorway in the passenger seat, with his hands behind his head and the driver's seat empty. Patel apparently engaged the semiautonomous driving feature before sliding into the passenger's seat.

Tesla Autopilot UK
Eyewitness footage of a Tesla driver in the United Kingdom who was sitting in the passenger seat after engaging the company's Autopilot feature. (Hertfordshire Police)

The vehicle was reportedly going 40 miles per hour and traffic was reportedly heavy at the time of the incident.

After video of the incident was posted on social media, Patel was questioned by police. The driver told officers that he knew his actions were "silly" and that he was just "the unlucky one who got caught."

"What Patel did was grossly irresponsible and could have easily ended in tragedy. He not only endangered his own life but the lives of other innocent people using the motorway on that day," Investigating officer PC Kirk Caldicutt said in a statement.

An engineer with the automaker provided authorities with a statement stressing that the Autopilot feature was intended to provide assistance to a "fully-attentive driver."

Authorities said Patel's driving privileges have been suspended for 18 months.

Patel is also ordered to perform 100 hours of unpaid work and pay £1,800 (about $2,477 USD) to the Crown Prosecution Service.

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