It has happened many times throughout Minnesota…person is a bit tipsy, they sit in the car to shake it off, and they sometimes fall asleep behind the wheel.
One Minnesota man was convicted of a DUI in a parked car. What’s even more interesting is the fact the car wouldn’t even start anyway.
Another man got drunk, stumbled out of his house, and sat in the car so he could sleep it off. This turned the man into a felon. The fact he consumed an entire twelve pack was never disputed. However, consuming those 12 beers and then sleeping it off in a car that was not running earned him 48 months in jail and five years of probation.
Why did this happen to this man?
Well, he left the driver’s side door open and this made a neighbor feel like he or she needed to alert the police. When the police arrived, they found the man sleeping in his car.
The man appealed the case all the way to the Minnesota Supreme Court, but they upheld his conviction. In the process, however, the elasticity of interpretation was heavily tested. The man had a little something in common with at least some of the jurors in his case and that was a love of beer. What didn’t win kudos with the jury were his prior DUI offenses.
In his case, the keys were in the center console and not the ignition. The engine was cold, which meant it had not run for quite a while. The radio wasn’t even on. When officers performed a preliminary breathalyzer test, they found that his blood alcohol concentration was .18, which is more than twice the legal limit in Minnesota.
Police stated that the man gave them conflicting reasons as to why he was in the car, but some would argue his drunkenness was probably responsible for the contradictions.
If the man had been pulled over, it would have been an open and shut case with his BAC being .18, but that was not the case. Instead, there have been prior cases in Minnesota where individuals have been convicted on grounds of an expanded interpretation of “physical control of a motor vehicle.” All of these cases were used as precedents.
For instance, there was one prior case in which “physical control” was stretched so thin that it included the possibility that a vehicle accessible to an intoxicated individual could easily be put into service, despite that person’s intent. This particular case was not relative to the man’s case, as an officer revealed an attempt to start the car failed because it simply would not run.
Despite the fact the car was not even operational, the Minnesota Supreme Court upheld the conviction.