CHP officers arrested Los Altos Planning Commissioner Alexander Samek Friday morning after finding him unconscious in the driver’s seat of his Tesla, which had been traveling down southbound Highway 101 near Whipple Avenue in Palo Alto.
An officer pulled alongside Samek’s car at approximately 3:37 a.m. after noticing he was going just above the speed limit, according to CHP spokesman Art Montiel.
The officer attempted to pull Samek over, driving behind his gray Model S with lights and sirens blaring. After Samek was determined to be “unresponsive,” Montiel said, the patrolman guessed that his Tesla was set to use its driver-assist capability, Autopilot, and employed two additional patrol cars to position themselves around the vehicle and safely bring Samek to a stop in the third lane.
Once the car came to a stop near the Embarcadero Road exit, one of the officers rapped on the window in an attempt to rouse the 45-year-old Los Altos resident. After some time, he stirred. At that time, Samek was assisted into the back of a patrol vehicle.
Officers exited the freeway and pulled into a nearby Shell gas station, at which time they conducted a sobriety test that Samek failed, according to Montiel. Samek was then taken into custody and brought to the San Mateo County Jail.
At approximately 1 p.m., Samek was listed as an inmate at the Maguire Correctional Facility, booked on two misdemeanors – driving under the influence and refusing a chemical test, and driving with a 0.08 percent or higher blood alcohol level. His bail for each charge was $7,500. By 2:30 p.m., he had posted bail.
Samek’s colleagues on the Planning Commission unanimously voted him in as the chairman Oct. 18.
The impact of Samek’s arrest on his seat is unknown at this time, as nothing in the city of Los Altos’ Commissions and Committees handbook addresses actions outside of civic involvement. The application for a commission seat does not request any information on criminal history. The most personal inquiries relate to employment history and membership in local organizations.
“It is your responsibility to represent Los Altos,” city training slides read.
When contacted by the Town Crier, city of Los Altos’ spokeswoman Erica Ray said the city declined to comment on the incident at this time. Tesla also declined to comment.
According to the San Mateo County inmate locator, Samek’s arraignment was scheduled after the Town Crier’s press deadline. The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office would not confirm if the court date was official.