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Case of Midwestern woman calls drunk driving policy into question

The woman will have her license revoked due to the conviction. The judge presiding over her case has insisted that fleeing from domestic violence may not be used as a defense to a drunk driving charge. In fact, the judge ruled that, "the episode of domestic violence here is outweighed by the potential hazards [the woman] created for the public when she drove her vehicle while intoxicated."

Of course, drunk driving is dangerous and should be avoided. However, this case raises the question of whether drunk driving must be absolutely avoided at all costs and regardless of context. On face, the answer seems clear. In practice, it is a more complicated issue.

When interpreting the law, it is important to remember the spirit in which it was created. Drunk driving is essentially a choice. When one's life is on the line, however, risking an intoxicated and adrenaline-fueled drive to safety may not ultimately be a choice in the strictest sense of the word.

Source: Star Tribune, "Driving drunk to escape attack will cost driver license," Abby Simons, July 17, 2012

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