The Minnesota Court of Appeals has upheld DWI charges against a man arrested by police for sitting in his vehicle. Daryl Dean Fleck had been convicted on two counts of driving while intoxicated in Minnesota after being found asleep in his SUV with the door open. The keys were in the center console and the vehicle was in Fleck’s assigned parking space. Fleck told police that he went to get something from his Chevy Blazer and then decided to sit in it for awhile. Investigating officers found three cans of beer under a blanket on the passenger seat. A breath test registered a blood alcohol content of .18%.
In the Appeals Court ruling, the judges said that there was sufficient evidence that Fleck was in ‘physical control’ of his vehicle and thus the DWI arrest was warranted. They went on to say that Fleck may have, without too much difficulty, started the vehicle and become a danger to others. Fleck denies any intent to drive the vehicle and he even told police he did not know where his keys were at the time of the arrest, though the court ruled that intent was ‘immaterial’.
The courts have undertaken the question of physical control in incidents of MN drunk driving before. In a 1984 case involving a man who slept in his vehicle after having an argument with his girlfriend, his case was won on appeal, as he showed no intent to drive. In 2006, police responded to an intoxicated man arguing with another guest at a wedding reception. The man was observed walking to his vehicle, unlocking the door and placing his foot in the car. He then turned and threw the keys to his wife but he was still charged with DWI for being in control of a vehicle. That case was eventually dismissed.
Those rulings leave open legal options to Fleck and his Minnesota DWI defense lawyer.
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