Monthly Archives: March 2009

Another Drunk Driving Conviction – With No Driving

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.)


Convicted of Drunk Driving…Without Driving

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)

The Scarlet Letters: DUI

If there is any doubt about there being a "DUI double standard", one need only look at the widespread use of public humiliation in drunk driving cases (urged on by MADD).  See my past posts The Scarlet Letters, The Scarlet Letter – Version 2, The Return of the Scarlet Letter, More MADDness and Washington Says "No" to DUI Scarlet Letter.

Consider the latest example of MADD’s resurrecting the old Puritan’s branding of suspected adulteresses:

DUI Offenders to be Publicized Through Media

Du Quoin, IL.  March 20  –  If you get arrested for DUI in southern Illinois, you may now see your name in the news.

That’s because State Police are going to start compiling weekly lists of these offenders, and give them to the media for the public to see…

"We’re beginning to post people’s names and where they’re from to the media to let them know that this has got to quit" says Trooper David Sneed with Illinois State Police, District 13…It would probably be embarrassing to find your name all thru-out the media and the newspapers and on TV that you’ve been arrested for DUI."

Note:   Citizens whose reputations are to be destroyed in the media are those arrested for drunk driving — not those convicted of the offense.   

Query:  Why aren’t those arrested for child molesting highlighted in the media?  Why not those arrested for burglary, rape or selling drugs?….Or maybe adulteresses?

“DUI SuperCops” To Be Monitored

The "DUI SuperCop" phenomenon is getting so bad in Chicago that the Illinois Attorney General is stepping in and requiring the top "DUI-busters" to have their police cars equipped with videotaping equipment to justify their arrests.

Prosecutor Says Top DUI Cops Need Squad-Car Cameras

Lawrence X. O’Reilly identifies 28 officers for supplying video evidence

Chicago, IL.  Mar. 19  – The top prosecutor in Cook County’s Traffic Court has asked the Chicago Police to assign video-equipped squad cars to officers who frequently make drunken-driving arrests.

Lawrence X. O’Reilly, supervisor of the state’s attorney’s traffic division, has identified 28 Chicago officers who regularly have DUI cases before the court, sources said. O’Reilly wants them to have video evidence to support their arrests.

Last year, Officer John Haleas was charged with falsifying information in DUI arrests. Officer Joe D. Parker is under investigation for the same thing…

Do you really think cops are only doing this in Chicago?  See my earlier posts for just a few examples of this growing trend:  DUI SuperCops (Florida),  SuperCops…and SuperCons (Oregon), How to Be a "Top Cop" (New Jersey) and SuperCops: The Smoking Gun (Texas).  

Another “DUI SuperCop” Caught Framing Innocent Citizens

As I’ve indicated in previous posts, there is a growing phenomenon of cops across the country trying to get the acclaim, promotions and money that come with "DUI SuperCop" status — by framing innocent motorists.  See, for example, SuperCops…and SuperCons, SuperCops: The Smoking Gun and Another DUI SuperCop.  Here’s another one who simply happened to get caught:

Does Video Catch Cop in DUI Lie?

‘Blatant Falsehood’ - Video shows no staggering, swaying

Chicago, IL.  Mar. 11  – The video from top DUI cop Joe D. Parker’s squad car shows a man walking a straight line, without stumbling or flailing his arms.

But Parker, a Chicago Police officer who has won acclaim for being among the leading DUI enforcers in the state, told a different story in his police report.

He wrote that Raymond L. Bell lost his balance and used his arms to steady himself. And he arrested the 33-year-old Oak Lawn man on charges of driving under the influence, speeding and negligent driving.

Now, after reviewing the squad-car video, Cook County prosecutors have dropped the July 2008 charges against Bell.

And they’re considering filing criminal charges against the 59-year-old Parker, who is one of three Chicago cops whose prolific DUI-busting has now come under scrutiny. Dozens of DUI arrests by Parker alone are under review, sources say.

Prosecutors have charged one of those cops — Officer John Haleas — with trumping up a DUI case. A review of his DUI arrests led to 156 cases being dismissed, Daly said…

Chicago defense lawyers say there are two reasons police officers might cut corners or even lie to boost their DUI arrest numbers: First, they stand to profit from the resulting overtime for going to court on the cases; also, there are accolades to be had…

Records show that Parker himself was once arrested for DUI, charged with drunken driving on Feb. 17, 1996. That case was dismissed the following year.

(Thanks to Andre)