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Tesla ‘driver’ arrested after riding in back seat on Oakland freeway

Two photos show a man sitting in the backseat of a Tesla car with no driver.
Two photos from social media show a man in the back seat of a Tesla who was arrested on suspicion of reckless driving.
(California Highway Patrol )

It was an unusual and disturbing sight in the Bay Area: A man was spotted cruising in his Tesla, his shoeless foot propped on the middle console as he reclined in the back seat — with no one behind the wheel.

Param Sharma, 25, posted an Instagram video Tuesday from the car’s rear passenger seat, where he sat bumping along to music and showing off an article on the back-seat entertainment screen headlined, “Man seen riding in back seat of Tesla with no driver.”

“B— tell the chp I bought my license,” the video caption said.

One day before that post, Sharma was arrested. Calls had been pouring into the California Highway Patrol office from Bay Area drivers who had spotted the driverless car traveling east on I-80 across the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge toward Oakland. An Oakland CHP officer then tracked down the vehicle and signaled Sharma to pull over.

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“The officer observed the individual move into the driver’s seat” before bringing the Tesla to a stop, according to a CHP Facebook post.

The officer arrested Sharma on suspicion of reckless driving and disobeying a peace officer. CHP had previously cited Sharma on April 27 for similar behavior, according to a news release. Alameda County court records show a Param Sharma also was charged with reckless driving in 2015.

The Tesla — a 2021 model that was registered to person named Anu Sharma — was towed from the scene. A woman who answered a call to a number listed for Anu Sharma declined to comment.

Param Sharma’s Instagram account displays images of a man in various cars and with piles of money, with captions referring to his followers as “peasants” and “blue collar.” He told Vice in an interview in 2013 that he was “using wealth as comedy.” These images of wealth always depict him alone, he told the publication, because he doesn’t want his girlfriend or friends “being subjected to that attention.”

In a video posted late Wednesday, Sharma shakes a Louis Vuitton scarf into the camera from his perch in the passenger seat of a moving Tesla — again, without a driver.

“I just got out of jail. I already got a Tesla, you feel me? I’m rich like that,” he said.


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