Another Drunk Driving Conviction – With No Driving

Posted by Lawrence Taylor on March 27th, 2009

Yesterday I posted about a Minnesota appellate court’s mind-boggling ruling that driving was not required to be arrested and convicted of drunk driving.  For those who think this was an isolated moment of judicial insanity, consider the latest wisdom from the appellate bench:


State’s Highest Court Rules In Drunken Driving Case

Hartford, CT.  Mar 24 – Drunken people don’t actually have to drive their cars to be charged with operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the state Supreme Court ruled Monday.

The court’s 5-0 ruling came in the case of Michael Cyr, who was arrested in Manchester in February 2005 in a parking lot near a bar. He had started his car remotely and then sat in the driver’s seat intoxicated, but never put the key into the ignition and didn’t drive anywhere.

Justices ordered the state Appellate Court, which had thrown out Cyr’s conviction, to reinstate it and send the case back to Superior Court in Manchester for sentencing.

Cyr, 50, of Andover, faces a year in prison followed by three years of probation.


In its written decision, the Connecticut Supreme Court used the following tortured reasoning to sustain the conviction:


In starting the engine of his vehicle remotely then getting behind the steering wheel, the defendant clearly took the first act in a sequence of steps necessary to set in motion the motive power of a vehicle that has been equipped with a remote starter.   The fact that the defendant next needed to insert his key to continue the process of setting in process that motive power is of no greater import in determining whether there has been operation than the fact that a person without a remote starter , after inserting the ignition key, wll need to turn that key to start the motor. 

 
As Humpty Dumpty said to Alice in Through the Looking Glass:


“When I use a word”, Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.”

“The question is”, said Alice,”whether you can make words mean so many different things.”

“The question is”, said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master — that’s all.”


(Thanks to George Stein and Lewis Carroll.)

 

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