Tesla Self-Driving Car Probes Keep Coming In 2023 with the DOJ

By Spencer Hulse Spencer Hulse has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team
Published on February 2, 2023

In October, Reuters reported that Tesla was under criminal investigation in the US because of its self-driving car claims. Now, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) is asking the company for documents as it looks into the EV car maker’s Autopilot and Full Self-Driving features.

DOJ Probe

In a public filing, Tesla said that the DOJ has requested documents related to the Autopilot and Full Self-Driving features. While there have been no comments made by the DOJ on the matter, Tesla said, “To our knowledge no government agency in any ongoing investigation has concluded that any wrongdoing occurred.”


It is not the first time the Autopilot and Full Self-Driving features have come under scrutiny. Tesla’s driver-assist software has been investigated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which has many people thinking it might be recalled at some point.

  • Autopilot includes various driver-assist features that many have reported help reduce fatigue on long drives. The features include things like automated steering.
  • Full Self-Driving takes greater control, steering vehicles on city streets, stopping when necessary, and even making turns. However, while many have found Tesla’s self-driving features impressive, there are numerous flaws.

Last summer, the NHTSA escalated its probe to an “engineering analysis” as a step toward potentially announcing a recall. The NHTSA started investigating after traffic incidents involving Autopilot-engaged vehicles. There is also a belief that the Autopilot technology was partially responsible for at least one fatal crash.

Tesla Says Everything Is Fine. Is It?

According to Tesla, its Autopilot technology is safer than ordinary driving, and if you ask fans of the technology, they would likely say the same thing. However, there have been multiple parties that are not as convinced, including autonomous vehicle experts that have pointed out that the data used by Tesla to make those claims does not give the best measure of safety.

Elon Musk has made claims that the Full Self-Driving tech will allow people to travel “to your work, your friend’s house, to the grocery store without you touching the wheel.” However, it is not quite that simple. Although they want people to think the car can drive itself, there are clear limitations, which the marketing does not always make clear.

  • In a video, Tesla said, “The person in the driver’s seat is only there for legal reasons. He is not doing anything. The car is driving itself.”
  • Tesla explicitly warned drivers to keep their hands on the wheel and maintain control of the vehicle while using Autopilot.
  • The company has also said on its website that the assistive features “do not make the vehicle autonomous.”

Therein lies the problem. Marketing suggests the vehicles drive themselves, and many people speak of it in the same way. However, that does not mean people can release the wheel, sit back, and let it take them where they want to go.

That is precisely what led Federal and California safety regulators to look into whether claims about Autopilot’s capabilities gave customers a false sense of security, causing them to treat the vehicles as autonomous.

By Spencer Hulse Spencer Hulse has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team

Spencer Hulse is the Editorial Director at Grit Daily. He is responsible for overseeing other editors and writers, day-to-day operations, and covering breaking news.

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