The Minnesota Supreme Court is poised to hear a very interesting argument: Should a person who drives drunk to flee danger be charged with DWI?
It isn’t an abstract question. The case was brought by a rural Minnesota woman who fled her husband when she was intoxicated.
One night in May 2011, the woman and her husband were drinking and her husband, who had a history of violence, became abusive. The woman fled the cabin in rural Kanabec County, where the two were staying, and locked herself in a vehicle in an effort to escape him.
The husband reportedly jumped on the hood of the car and punched the windshield hard enough to break it. The woman has said she felt she had no safe route other than to drive away.
The woman was eventually charged with DWI, which was later negotiated down to careless driving. (Her husband was charged with domestic assault.)
The woman had her driver’s license suspended for six months and has since been reinstated, but the woman has said she wants to bring this issue before the state supreme court because she passionately believes that domestic violence victims need special consideration.
As a Minneapolis DWI lawyer, I will be watching this case with interest. Although I believe in public safety and widespread application of the law, it certainly does seem that fleeing a domestic abuser is not the kind of behavior that our laws were intended to punish.
Reasonable minds can disagree, though. What are your thoughts?
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