Court of Appeals holds that Polk County man drunk, asleep in car still guilty of DWI

24 Mar

 

 

To convict a driver of DWI, Minn. Stat. § 169A.20 (https://www.revisor.leg.state.mn.us/statutes/?id=169A.20), Minnesota courts look to the legal concept of “physical control” to determine whether an impaired person (not necessarily a driver) was in a position to potentially maneuver a motor vehicle.

 

A recent Star Tribune article (http://www.startribune.com/local/41754752.html?elr=KArksLckD8EQDUoaEyqyP4O:DW3ckUiD3aPc:_Yyc:aUUs) demonstrates this concept, where Daryl Fleck was convicted of DWI for merely sleeping in his vehicle, at his apartment parking spot, with the keys to the vehicle in the center console.

         

For some time now, the law in Minnesota has stated that any time a person is in a position to control the movement or potential movement of a motor vehicle, that person in physical control of the vehicle as though he or she was driving the vehicle at any speed on the roadway.

         

There are arguments both for the prosecution and the defense.  For the prosecution, there is a policy argument to be made that the State should not reward impaired drivers for their ability to drive impaired just long enough to park the vehicle in the nearest corn field, the keys within a reachable distance should they wish to drive again when the coast is clear.

 

For the defense, there is an argument to be made that those persons who were trying to do the right thing, whether that be avoiding an argument with their spouse or roommate, or trying to seek shelter from the cold, should not be punished when it was not their intent actually to drive the vehicle.

 

Entry by Ryan Wood. Ryan is an associate in the litigation section at Thomsen & Nybeck and practices in the areas of criminal law and general civil litigation.  Ryan has a wealth of varying experience in the field of criminal law as a prosecutor in multiple jurisdictions, and as a defense attorney handling adult, felony, white collar and juvenile matters.  He also has experience in complex civil litigation.  Ryan has directed cases through mediations, arbitrations, jury trials and the state and federal appellate courts, including oral argument, and has handled literally hundreds of court trials.  Ryan’s public service experience includes authoring materials for and lecturing at Continuing Legal Education and training seminars, serving as a law clerk to a Minnesota District Court judge and also serving as a staffer in the United States Senate.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: