Driver allegedly slept behind wheel of Tesla traveling 80mph on autopilot in Kenosha County

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KENOSHA, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Imagine driving down the highway, looking to your right and the guy driving next to you is sound asleep. That’s what happened in Kenosha County.

According to the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Office, the man was in a Tesla, and had the car on autopilot, as he slept behind the wheel.

CBS 58 obtained the 911 call, along with dash and body camera footage from the incident.

“Hi I’m on the expressway crossing into Wisconsin on 94 and there’s a black Tesla and the driver’s sleeping,” the 911 caller said.

Police say the Tesla was on autopilot, going 82 miles per hour, and the driver, Metul Patel, was asleep behind the wheel.

“I mean he’s not erratic or anything, you know, the car’s being safe,” the 911 caller said. “It’s just that I looked over and he’s sound asleep.”

Dash cam video shows Kenosha Deputy David Gomez trying to stop Patel, pulling up next to the Tesla and driving behind it.

“For about 2.2 miles I had no reaction from the driver,” Gomez said. “Lights and sirens going, different pitches, different sounds, still no reaction.”

Finally, Patel wakes up and pulls over.

“You were sleeping,” Deputy Gomez says to Patel on the body camera video.

In response, Patel denies he was asleep.

Deputy Gomez says this isn’t even a first for Patel. In February and August of last year, people called 911 about a man sleeping behind the wheel.

“You had two priors for doing the same thing,” Deputy Gomez says to Patel in the body camera video. “August and February of 2020, they observed you on the interstate sleeping.”

Patel was not cited in those cases because he was awake when deputies caught up with him.

“I work seven days a week, I was tired, I might have been a little tired,” Patel told Deputy Gomez.

CBS 58 spoke to Patel on the phone. He did not want to go on camera, but said he was not asleep and the story is inaccurate.

Deputy Gomez cited Patel for inattentive driving and had the Tesla towed.

“If you’re doing this and you think you can go about your business and drive? No,” Deputy Gomez told CBS 58. “Never let technology take over.”

Tesla does warn drivers that even in autopilot they need to have their hands on the wheel.

CBS 58 asked the company for comment about this case, but we have not yet heard back.

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