That Daryl Fleck , 55, may not have intended to drive when he was found sleeping drunk in the driverâÄôs seat of his vehicle, parked in his home lot at 11:30 p.m. âÄúis immaterial,âÄù Judge Terri Stoneburner argued in a Minnesota Appeals Court decision that upheld FleckâÄôs drunk driving conviction. Under MinnesotaâÄôs Driving While Impaired statute, 169A.20, it is illegal for any person with a blood-alcohol concentration in excess of .08 to âÄúdrive, operate, or be in physical control of any motor vehicle.âÄù Stoneburner argues in accordance with State v. Starfield : âÄúPhysical control is meant to cover situations where an inebriated person is found in a parked vehicle that, without too much difficulty, might again be started and become a source of danger.âÄù But âÄúmere presence in or about the vehicle is not enough for physical control; it is the overall situation that is determinative.âÄù Unfortunately for Fleck, the court found the keys situation determinative, but the slumber situation irrelevant. Stoneburner actually ruled a passed-out Fleck capable of starting a car âÄúwithout too much difficulty.âÄù A sleeping drunk with no intent to drive or motion to constitute driving can now be charged under MinnesotaâÄôs 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. âÄúThere is no evidence his purpose for being in the vehicle was inconsistent with driving,âÄù 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.
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