25 March 2009

You can be arrested for DWI even without driving

A Minnesota man was recently convicted of "drunken driving", and an appeals court upheld that conviction - even though he wasn't driving. He had admittedly been drunk and had been found asleep in his car. There was no evidence that he had driven the car to its location, but...
The appeals court said that Fleck's keys were "readily available to him," and there was no evidence he was in the car to do something other than drive. That he may not have intended to drive is "immaterial," the eight-page decision said...

Stearns County Attorney Janelle Kendall, also president of the Minnesota County Attorneys Association, said Tuesday's ruling is consistent with the law and public safety. "The point behind the physical control law is they could take off with it at any time," she said.


  1. In Shelbyville, Indiana the same thing can happen as well. Only if your keys are in the ignition. If they aren't and you are drunk in your car and not on your property you get slapped with a public intox charge. A close friend recently just got out of jail because she choose to sleep in her car (backseat mind you) after a party rather than drive home intoxicated. She thought she was doing the right thing, but I guess she wasn't.

  2. By that logic, if I lived there and owned a gun, I would be guilty of murder!

  3. This can't happen here in Texas. However, there is a statute that allows an officer to make an arrest for DWI if sufficient probable cause exists to demonstrate that the offender WAS driving the vehicle (i.e. a motor vehicle accident. "I swear officer, I have no idea how that tree or my front bumper got damaged!)

    I would imagine that these cases will be contested and sent up through the various appeals court until the US Supreme Court finally rules on what is "Driving While Intoxicated."

  4. This happened in France recently. Some people were arrested while on their bycicles (which they had taken because they knew they would be slightly over the legal limit). They ended up being locked up a whole night in cell. This is because the french police is encouraged to come up with high statistics of solved investigations. And arresting someone even slightly intoxicated counts towards this. Crazy...

  5. back about 02 my x girlfriend would stop by my apartment, I was raising my daughter there, I left her for the alcohol abuse. She showed up one day I told her leave or I WILL call 911, I called and she hung the phone up on me. 911 called back asking if there was a prob.... after explanation a police officer arrived. Though not driving at the time she was arrested, she was drunk, had nothing to drink at my place so she obviously drove there already drunk.

  6. Likewise, our 26-y.o. friend suffered a DUI arrest on a bicycle at a fairgrounds last summer (in Half Moon Bay, California). It didn't help that he has prior history of vehicular DUI. Night in jail; multiple court appearances; no conclusion yet (8 months later) but he expects to have months of work furlough and electronic (ankle) monitoring on top of the jail, fines, etc. Alcoholism is cruel.

  7. There's a joke that says something about a woman attempting to charge an officer with rape.
    And he says: But I haven't touched you.
    To which she responded: But you have all the equipment...

    Drinking is eventually going to be seen as being as unsociably-acceptable as smoking is.
    And I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing. But stories like this are definitely helping the situation along!

  8. In New Orleans, you can get arrested for sleeping in your car while intoxicated. However, if you sleep ON your car, that's OK. (I've seen a lot of both.)


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