Beds, Herts & Bucks

Tesla driver banned for M1 autopilot seat-switch

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Media captionBhavesh Patel was filmed by a passenger in another car

A driver who moved into the passenger seat after putting his electric car into autopilot while at 40mph on a motorway has been banned from driving.

Bhavesh Patel, 39, of Alfreton Road, Nottingham, pleaded guilty to dangerous driving at St Albans Crown Court.

A witness in another car filmed him sitting in the passenger seat of his Tesla S 60 on the M1 between junctions 8 and 9 near Hemel Hempstead.

Patel said he was the "unlucky one who got caught", the court was told.

The footage was posted on social media before it was reported to the police.

Image copyright Herts Police
Image caption PC Kirk Caldicutt said what Bhavesh Patel did was "grossly irresponsible and could have easily ended in tragedy"

The court heard Patel told officers what he had done was "silly" but his car was capable of something "amazing" when he was interviewed at Stevenage Police Station.

He added he was the "unlucky one who got caught".

A statement provided by a Tesla engineer said the autopilot was intended to provide assistance to a "fully-attentive driver", the court heard.

PC Kirk Caldicutt from Hertfordshire Police said: "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."

Patel was disqualified for 18 months and must do 100 hours of unpaid work.

He was also told to pay the Crown Prosecution Service costs of £1,800.

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