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Overview A California administrative judge has denied Tesla's attempt to dismiss allegations made by the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) that the

California Judge Rejects Tesla's Bid to Dismiss Misleading Self-Driving Claims

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Image credit: Bram Van Oost

Overview

A California administrative judge has denied Tesla's attempt to dismiss allegations made by the state's Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) that the automaker misled consumers about the capabilities of its self-driving technology.

Key Points:

  1. Judge's Decision:

    • Judge Juliet Cox from the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) ruled on Monday that the claims made by the California DMV, if proven true, justify enforcement action against Tesla.
  2. California DMV's Allegations:

    • In July 2022, the California DMV accused Tesla of overstating the capabilities of its Autopilot and Full Self-Driving (FSD) technologies in advertisements.
    • The DMV argued that Tesla's vehicles "could not at the time of those advertisements, and cannot now, operate as autonomous vehicles."
  3. Potential Consequences:

    • The DMV is seeking potential remedies that include suspending Tesla's license to sell vehicles in California and requiring the automaker to provide restitution to affected vehicle owners.
  4. Formal Review Date:

    • The accusations will undergo a formal review before the OAH on September 9.
  5. Previous Legal Challenges:

    • On May 15, a federal judge in San Francisco denied Tesla's motion to dismiss a proposed nationwide class-action lawsuit. This lawsuit claims Tesla misled consumers into believing their vehicles would soon achieve full self-driving capabilities.
  6. Federal Investigations:

    • Tesla has been under scrutiny for several years by federal authorities regarding whether its self-driving technology has contributed to fatal crashes.
  7. Tesla's Response:

    • As of now, Tesla and its legal representatives have not commented on the recent judicial decision. The DMV also declined to comment on the judge's decision.

Industry and Consumer Implications:

The ongoing legal and regulatory challenges Tesla faces concerning its Autopilot and FSD technologies highlight the importance of transparency and accuracy in advertising, especially in the rapidly evolving field of autonomous driving. These challenges also underscore the potential consequences of overstating technological capabilities to consumers and the regulatory scrutiny that can follow.

Conclusion:

This ruling is a significant development in the regulatory scrutiny Tesla faces over its self-driving technology claims. The upcoming formal review by the OAH will be a critical juncture in determining whether Tesla will face further penalties or required changes in its marketing and operational practices. As Tesla continues to push the boundaries of autonomous driving, these legal battles will likely influence how it and other automakers communicate their technological advancements to the public.

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