Tesla Model 3 Driver Pulled Over For Having ‘Computer’ Strapped to Dashboard

The officer wasn't quite familiar with electric car's minimalist interior.

The vast touchscreen that anchors the Tesla Model 3’s button-less interior has its fair share of pros and cons. Good: it’s a forward-thinking attempt at reimagining how we interact with our vehicles, and it looks pretty slick. Bad: there’s always a chance that a police officer will think you’ve got an actual computer strapped to your dashboard and pull you over for distracted driving, as seen in this video spotted by InsideEVs.

Tesla Model 3 owner Jon Hall was driving his electric car on Saturday when a passing motorcycle officer mistook its central touchscreen for a homebrew setup. Hall happened to have his inside-facing dashcam running at the time, and you can see the officer pull up alongside him in traffic as the clip begins before making the stop about twenty seconds later.

The officer opens by telling Hall that he’s “not allowed to have [a] computer mounted on there.” Hall pauses for a beat then laughs, thinking the officer is making a joke. “Could you help me take it off?” he replies in jest. But the cop is serious, saying that while it’s “kinda cool” that he’s got it rigged as a navigation system, it’s illegal to use such a big device while driving. Hall’s face turns to genuine surprise as he tries to explain that it’s the stock setup for the car.

“What is this thing?” the officer finally asks, at which point Hall tells him it’s a Tesla Model 3 and details the various functionalities found in the touchscreen. There are a few awkward pauses as both sides figure out how exactly to proceed. Clearly wishing he could rewind time, the officer apologizes for the mix up and sends Hall on his way.

Screens are inescapable these days, and they’re taking up more dashboard real estate than ever. Even if the officer was mistaken by the letter of the law in this situation, it’s still ironic that someone driving an older vehicle with an equally-sized box strapped to the dash probably would have received a ticket here. The Tesla’s tablet comes straight from the factory and is used for the car’s vital functions, but it still represents the same basic principle.

Then again, if some manufacturers have their way, we’ll look back on moments like this as fun little anecdotes from a transient era. A car with just a single screen? How cute.