‘Minority Report’ Becomes a Minnesota Reality

(LEW ROCKWELL)    The movie Minority Report was about a future society where people are arrested before they actually even commit a crime, i.e, they are arrested just for thinking about it. It seems that science fiction has become science fact in Minnesota.


The Supreme Court of Minnesota on Thursday upheld the drunk driving conviction of a man caught asleep behind the wheel of a vehicle that would not start. At 11:30pm on June 11, 2007, police found Daryl Fleck sleeping in his own legally parked car in his apartment complex parking lot. The vehicle’s engine was cold to the touch, indicating it had not been driven recently. The keys were in the center console, not the ignition. Fleck admitted to having consumed around a dozen beers that night. Officers at the scene arrested him, and his blood alcohol level was found to be .18.

Laws covering driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) have evolved over the years to cover the situations where police find a parked, but recently driven, vehicle with a drunk behind the wheel. In the 1992 case Minnesota v. Starfield, the court found a drunk passenger sitting in a vehicle stuck in a ditch guilty of DUI, but not because it could prove she really was the one who drove and caused the accident. Instead, the court ruled that “towing assistance [was] likely available” creating the theoretical possibility that the immobile vehicle could “easily” be made mobile. These defendants have been charged under an expanded definition that suggests having “dominion and control” with the mere potential to drive is a crime. Intending to sleep off a night of drinking treated as the same crime as attempting to drive home under this legal theory which does not take motive into account. [Think about this: You’re drunk. You get into your car in order to sleep off your condition so that you can be sober enough to drive later on—yet that’s still considered drunk driving!!!]

As Fleck was an unsympathetic figure with multiple DUI convictions in his past, prosecutors had no problem convincing a jury to convict. The court took up Fleck’s case to expand the precedent to cover the case of mere presence in an undriven—and perhaps undrivable—car into the definition of drunk driving. The court relied on Fleck’s drunken claim that his car was operable to set aside the physical evidence to the contrary. [This has to be the first time in modern jurisprudence where eyewitness testimony holds more weight than the actual physical evidence!! Talk about setting a landmark precedent.]

[Thanks to Mark Fee]

UPDATE: Matthew Lee writes:

Regarding your ‘Minority Report’ blog post at LewRockwell.com this morning: I have often felt the same sense in the prosecution of on-line child predators in which the ‘minor’ the person was allegedly preying on was no such thing at all but, rather, an undercover policeman. The law forbids such activities with a MINOR; to my knowledge, there is no law against such activity with an undercover officer who is of age. Thus, like the DUI story you mention, folks are, in fact, being prosecuted for their INTENTIONS because they believed they were contacting a minor.

You could also add in folks pinched for buying fake drugs from undercover cops. It’s not illegal to buy talcum powder–unless you *believe* it to be cocaine, I reckon.


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