Last week, Tesla CEO Elon Musk livestreamed the test drive of a Model S, apparently equipped with version 12 of the Full-Self Driving (FSD V12) suite. Critics lashed out at him on X, formerly Twitter, for recording from the driver’s seat, which is a violation in California.
The low-quality livestream showed Musk and Tesla’s head of Autopilot Ashok Elluswamy sharing details about the artificial intelligence-powered FSD V12, while the Model S drove semi-autonomously around Palo Alto’s streets.
Despite violating California state law, Musk won’t be fined for the offense. The Palo Alto Police Department said that officers didn’t witness the crime themselves, which is why Musk won’t get a ticket.
“Had an officer observed the driver with the phone in their hand, they could have issued the driver an infraction ticket for violating California’s hands-free law,” Palo Alto PD Captain James Reifschneider told The Verge.
The billionaire tech magnate appeared to be in control of the Model S, and he promptly intervened when the FSD V12 attempted to jump a red light. If Musk had been issued a ticket, he’d have to pay only $20 – the fine for first-time offenders. Officers can issue a $50 fine for each subsequent offense, as per the California Legislative Code.
Tesla’s Autopilot is the subject of multiple ongoing investigations. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) wrote in a recent letter to the company that it found the Autopilot to be operating for extended periods without prompting the driver to apply torque to the steering wheel. NHTSA asked the EV maker to respond or face a hefty fine.
The brand is also facing lawsuits over safety concerns. Plaintiffs in two deadly crashes involving Tesla EVs in California and Florida have argued that the Autopilot either caused the accidents or didn’t take measures to prevent them.
In a separate incident, dashcam footage showed a Tesla ramming into emergency vehicles in Texas, hospitalizing four police officers, prompting NHTSA to intervene.