Some argue that DUI laws have gone too far (joe.ruiz, Flickr).

    by: Dan Roth | AOL Autos

    It seems like it could be a storyline out Steven Spielberg's 2002 movie, Minority Report: a Minnesota man was convicted of a DUI offense in a car that wasn't moving. What's even more surprising: the car wouldn't start at all.

    As it turns out, getting a bit tipsy and stumbling out of the house to sleep it off in the car may make you a felon. It happened to Daryl Fleck.

    That he'd consumed about twelve beers is not in dispute. His felony conviction for drunk driving, even though his car was not running and legally parked, has earned him 48 months in custody and five years of probation.

    It started one night in 2007, when when a neighbor at Fleck's apartment complex alerted police, they found him sleeping in his car, with the driver's side door still open.

    Appealed all the way to the Minnesota Supreme Court, Fleck's conviction was ultimately upheld, though not without testing the elasticity of interpretation. Fleck obviously shares a fondness for beer with many Americans, though his prior DUI offenses did not win friends on the jury.

    In this instance, the keys to the car were in the center console, far from the ignition. The engine was cold, and Fleck hadn't even been listening to the radio. Officers determined Fleck's blood-alcohol level was .18, which may be more to blame for the conflicting reasons he gave to police when asked why he was at the car than any attempt at deceit.

    DUI Poll
    You be the judge: should Fleck have been convicted of DUI?

    Minnesota's legal blood-alcohol limit is .08, and Fleck's results were more than double that. Were he cruising sloppily past a sobriety checkpoint, the case would have been an unchallenged open-and-shut matter.

    Instead, prior cases that convicted citizens of DUI on the grounds of an expanded interpretation of "physical control" were used as precedents.

    For example, in a prior case, the meaning of "physical control" was stretched to include the possibility that a vehicle available to an intoxicated person could easily be pressed into service, irrespective of intent. Again, that would be a more straightforward precedent but for the fact that an officer's attempt to start Fleck's impounded car revealed that it wouldn't run.

    Despite the apparent incongruity with reason, Fleck's conviction was upheld by the Minnesota Supreme Court.

    Has a menace been removed from the roads -- and society, for that matter?

    No doubt, someone with prior DUI convictions isn't doing the public a service. Fleck shouldn't have been near the car in his condition.

    We only shudder to think of how far the notion of "physical control" extends before someone else decides the fate of the rest of our automotive experiences.

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    1 - 20 of 516 Comments
    tomandcarsonsmom Jan 08, 2011 10:16 AM
    This country spends more money on building prisons than building schools.
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    planxan2 Nov 23, 2010 6:32 PM
    tbot48 - EXACTLY. It isn't about justice anymore. It is about convicting EVERYONE and ANYONE, which is why America has more prisoners than any other nation in the world by a huge margin. More than TEN TIMES the number of prisoners in ALL of Europe!
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    tbot48 Nov 23, 2010 5:13 PM
    I don't drink but I have been busted twice for open containers... The 1st time was 10 minutes out of Ohare airport with a rent a car that had not been cleaned up properlyand there was a vodka bottle with less than an ounce in it... Had to post bail on that one... The 2nd time, I was on vacation in my motorhome with a woman that drank beer in the evening... When we left the next morning I was pulled over for a tailight being out and was busted for 3 empty beer cans that had been placed upside down in the sink... There is no justice anymore, just tax collecting cops with an attitude, a badge and a gun...
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    jpatella4life Nov 23, 2010 3:35 PM
    Good for you birthdaybummer, it was nice of you to tell your story and it's great that you learned from it and moved forward in your life. The world would be a little safer if everyone learned after their first mistake instead of continuing the vicious cycle of drunk driving! You should be proud of yourself for making the necessary changes in your life. I found your story to be inspiring..I also know a family friend that has a few DUIs and one he drove the car, but parked it and got out, but he wasn't home, he was by the beach. The judge made a point of asking how he had gotten there if he didn't drive drunk? He was convicted and put on probation, as he should have because he had full access to a car while he was intoxicated. He just had his fourth DUI last February 2010 and he's facing 6 mandatory months in jail. Some people never learn until they finally kill someone or themselves. Good luck to you and God Bless!!
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    birthdaybummer Aug 20, 2010 3:23 PM
    It was September 1996 my birthday and I had it all planned for that evening. I was working 2 jobs and going to school part time and decided to let my hair hang down and celebrate my birthday with a designated driver for the night. I had just got out of an 8 year unhealthy relationship, so she would not be my usual designator driver as this was so past birthdays. I asked an acquaintance to be my designating driver for that September birthday and he agreed. I was having a great time dancing the night away at my favorite night club. The bar tender was extra nice to me and served up Bacardi and coke. It was more like pure Bacardi with a splash of coke for color. It was horribly strong but I drank them anyway, it was free and it was my birthday. I was spending this birthday as an unattached man. I thought I was having a great time until it was time to go. My designator driver ended up getting real drunk and was unable to drive. I was disappointed and we had to get home. I could not take a taxi home as I was driving my home. A 69 Chevy step side truck with 3 on the tree and a Six Pak Camper in tow. I remember Mikey not feeling to good and crawling into the back of the camper. I had a choice but was too high to make a good decision. I was hungry so I drove to my favorite Mexican drive through only to find it closed. There were no lights and it was dark. I drove passed the window and tore off one of the camper feet. I did not know this at the time. I thought I banged the pole but I was wrong. I jumped on the freeway and headed to the good side of town. I wanted to park in the parking lot of the 24 hr grocery store to sleep for the night. I remember feeling really sleepy so I rolled down the windows and tried to stay focused on staying awake. It was cold that September morning so I made the mistake of turning on the heater which made me even more sleepy. I knew I was not suppose to be driving. All I thought about was going to sleep. I exited the freeway safely. I went down a familiar childhood street. It was a narrow two-way street in a middle class neighborhood. I grew up in that area. I knew the streets well. I had to pull over anywhere, I was fighting to keep my eyes open, so I saw a parked car in front of some homes and decided to pull over and park behind it. I had to stop driving, I was scared I was going to pass out. I woke up to banging on the driver side window. It was the Sheriff. They had flash lights on me and ordered me to get out. I have no idea how long they were there and banging on the window. It would have had to be a very long time though. I had passed out behind the drivers wheel with the keyes still in the ignition. Somehow I had enough sense to turn the truck off. I wouldn't call it sense, more like my guardian angel was with us that night. I went to jail that night. I am not sure where they took my friend (supposedly designated driver) I was charged with a DUI, parking in a no parking zone? if it was not for that other parked car I would not have parked there. I think this was Gods way of getting me to stop the vehicle and saving our life and perhaps some other innocent person? they also cited me for having a person passed out in the camper? I paid $2500.00 for a DUI school. lost my privilege to drive for one year. $500.00 for towing & storage. Court fines $$$$ Dept. of Revenue. 4 years Court Probation. I had to do 24 weekends on a weekend work program and pay $$$ for it rain or shine. I ruined my DMV flawless record. Insurance rates are higher because I am considered a risk and they gave me negative points against my driver's license. I lost a good job. This was my first and only DUI. All this was a small price to pay for what could have ended in tragedy. I could have hurt or killed my friend/acquaintance. I could have hurt or killed someone innocent. I could have hurt or killed myself. It could have been worse. I was one of the lucky ones. I am here today to tell my story or this life changing event. I am here today to tell you please don't drink and drive. Call a taxi, your mom, dad a friend for a ride. If you do drink make sure your designator driver does NOT partake in any drinking! I am happily married now with a son. I have my own business. I do NOT drink nor do I have the desire to. I am a law abiding citizen. This is the first time I speak of this nightmare. I am ashamed of my poor decision to get behind the wheel. I truly do feel that it was an act of God that saved my life. I live in Santa Clara County, CA and yes it is possibly to get a DUI in a non-moving vehicle. Please drink responsible. You might not be as lucky as I was. Just don't do it. God bless & Peace be with you Thank you for reading this and not judging me. Angel from CA
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    nightstc Jul 27, 2010 11:00 PM
    Couple things the author choose to omit. 1- found guilty by a Jury not a Judge. 2- 4th DWI Don't believe everything you read on the internet specially from amateur writers.
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    katcolby6 Jul 18, 2010 12:57 PM
    It's a matter of control. Every day the powers that be, take a little more control away from the people. The man was asleep. He wasn't driving. His keys were not in the ignition. They could have taken the keys and sent them back in 72 hours, but no, it's worth a whole lot more money to charge him with a DUI. BY THE PEOPLE_FOR THE PEOPLE_OF THE PEOPLE_ my tail feathers.
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    gplatt6 Jul 12, 2010 10:41 AM
    I have a friend that pulled over realizing tha he was alittle impaired from drinking. turned the car off and put the keys on the seat beside him. A cop stop and ask if he was ok,his reply was "i was getting sleepy and thought it best to get off the road and take a rest..the cop ask about drinking my friend said he had a few beers earlier.he was asked to get out of the car.He was charged with D.U.I. now here was a man who was bright enough to pull off the road because he was enable to drive safely I guess the police would have him drive home intoxicated perhaps kill himself or an other.I would think this man did the best thing he could have in the situation but what happenis because of his judgement . he sat sleeping in his car just waiting for arrest!
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    blackpat2004 Jul 12, 2010 7:27 AM
    honeyluna1221 Feb 07, 2010 6:08 AM "The answer is to control your drinking. If you have to sleep it off in the car, then you have over indulged. There is no excuse for this and obviously someone doing this has a drinking problem. The conviction may have saved the drivers life. Drugs and alcohol are no joke. This driver had a former DUI and needs to go to rehab." This is one of the dumbest f*****g things I've ever read. I cannot believe that people intelligent enough to form coherent sentences could be blind and dumb enough to not see complete injustice of this case. ANYONE WHO THINKS THIS GUY SHOULD'VE BEEN CONVICTED OF A DUI IS AN IDIOT! honeyluna1221 says that if you have to sleep it off in your car then you have over indulged...I suppose it would be better if I tried to drive home. I and nearly everyone I know has drunk too much at some point in time, it happens. Driving drunk is no laughing matter but as far as this case goes the guy didnt drive anywhere, period. I have a concealed weapon license, are you going to charge me with murder everytime I leave the house because I have the ability and the means to kill someone. You cannot argue precedents in the case because you then open the door for a number of thought crimes. It is unconstitutional. Over indulgence alone is not always a crime - should all overweight people be arrested? What about people with gambling problems? Draw the line!
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    skeehanson5990 Jul 08, 2010 6:27 PM
    What were the keys doing on the console? Presumably he kept them in his pocket,not iout in the open in the car like that. Which means he got them out once he got inton the car. Why? Meaning, perhaps, to drive it? People who automaticly assume that the policf and courts are wrong and get belligerany about it tell us a lot more about themselves than about the subject under discussion.
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    jhnsnphil Jun 19, 2010 12:37 AM
    You won't get arrested for bieng in the Country illegally, why should you be arrested or convicted of anything else?
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    hland30938 Jun 11, 2010 8:22 PM
    the punishment does not fit the crime......the crime of sleeping in his own car. if he was polluted on pychiatric drugs he would of been justified to sleep it off. where is Andy of Mayberry ? Barney is out of control again.
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    oakjd37 May 18, 2010 11:43 AM
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    summeroceanblue Apr 25, 2010 8:17 AM
    The people who are responsible for this were relying on the shrill, judgemental cowards out there refusing to admit that this is an injustice. It's interesting to me that the people who defend this are obviously brain-washed and in denial, and have to resort to bizarre, twisted rationalizations to defend something this obviously wrong. This is apparently where this country is headed. The man did not break the law. The law was twisted to convict him with high hopes that everybody hates a poor drunk (if he has money, it's another story) so everyone would band together and allow a perversion of justice and wink and nod.
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    jerunamuck Apr 14, 2010 9:33 AM
    We may as well imprison nearly a third of law enforcement for attempted murder since they are in "physical control" of a deadly weapon and have a record of domestic violence or were disciplined for use of "excessive force". I once left a party, decided I was too drunk to drive and should sleep it off in the back seat. I asked permission from the property owner to do just that. An hour later I was rousted by Los Angeles' "Finest", failed a road side sobriety test, then was told that If I don't drive home now I'd be arrested for drunk in public (while on private property). Yes, I failed a road side sobriety test and was ordered to drive home. Boggles my mend even 25 years later.
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    iq00000007509586 Apr 09, 2010 5:04 PM
    I think this is crazy. Especially if the car didn't even start. He should not have received any penalty. maybe he needs to move out of his apartment building. They are stalkers!!
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    livfr7 Apr 07, 2010 9:36 AM
    I totally agree with a few people here. You wonder why some people go nuts after being treated unfairly. I do not think that this person should have gotten any time in Jail-time whatsoever or even a DUI!
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    wakingdreamx Apr 02, 2010 11:50 AM
    Kudos to matth1506 and chuarstau for your comments. It does beg the question - how far can it go? A man capable of an erection can commit rape and you can get drunk at home and as long as your car runs and it close at hand you can "physically control" your automobile. Completely completely ridiculous.
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    wakingdreamx Apr 02, 2010 11:47 AM
    So sayeth the writer: "someone with prior DUI convictions isn't doing the public a service". Ergo... someone who is not serving the public should be denied his freedom???? I"m not quite sure that's what John Locke had in mind or ANY OF THE FOUNDING FATHERS for that matter. ANyway, the type of person who would prosecute this man to the fullest extent the way they did is despicable. Your past should not criminalize you permanently.
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    rmatth1506 Apr 02, 2010 8:48 AM
    Why not include the charge of rape , He was in possesion of the equipment to do the crime.
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    A Minnesota man was convicted of a DUI offense in a car that wasn't moving. What's even more surprising: the car wouldn't start at all.


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