Convicted of Drunk Driving…Without Driving

Posted by Lawrence Taylor on March 26th, 2009

Want to know how crazy things have gotten?  


Minnesota Court: You Needn’t Be Driving to Be Guilty of DWI

Appeals court upholds conviction of man found passed out in parked car. 

Minneapolis, MN.  Mar. 24 — Daryl Fleck was drunk and asleep in his car in the parking lot of his Crookston apartment building when someone called police.

Officers who responded that night in 2007 saw his car keys on the console between the front seats, but found no evidence that Fleck, who was parked in his assigned spot, had recently driven.

Nonetheless, Fleck was convicted of drunken driving, and on Tuesday, the Minnesota Court of Appeals upheld that conviction in a decision that serves as a reminder that a person can be guilty of drunken driving without having driven.

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…


So if this guy could have driven, then…he did?  And if he could have stolen a car, he did?  Clearly, the DUI scene is becoming increasingly Kafkaesque.  But maybe the public is finally starting to recognize the MADDness.  The following is an editorial from another Minneapolis newspaper the next day:


Driving While Immobile

The Minnesota Court of Appeals upheld the DWI conviction of a man sleeping in a parked car.


Minneapolis, MN.  Mar. 25
– That Daryl Fleck , 55, may not have intended to drive when he was found sleeping drunk in the driver’s seat of his vehicle, parked in his home lot at 11:30 p.m. “is immaterial,” Judge Terri Stoneburner argued in a Minnesota Appeals Court decision that upheld Fleck’s drunk driving conviction…

A sleeping drunk with no intent to drive or motion to constitute driving can now be charged under Minnesota’s Driving While Impaired statute. Make no mistake: This ruling holds that the potential to commit crime constitutes actual crime, and one is guilty until proven innocent. “There is no evidence his purpose for being in the vehicle was inconsistent with driving,” the opinion stated.

The Fleck case, like Starfield before it, is downright tyrannical law. Minnesota should increase DWI penalties before stretching enforceability beyond the reasonable meaning of language. Whether the keys are near them or not, a snoring drunk has no more control of a vehicle than he does with his dreams. Daryl Fleck now faces four years in prison for never actually posing a danger to his self or others.


And for those who think this case was just an isolated aberration, see my previous posts:  Drunk Driving – Without Driving, Parking Under the Influence  and Pulling Over and Sleeping It Off: Still a DUI?.


(Thanks to Jeanne Pruett and RIDL)
 

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