The justice system is supposed to determine if someone is guilty of a crime considering all the facts of a case. Therefore, we can say that the circumstances of the crime in question can impact the criminality of the accused. However, does this mean that an emergency is a valid excuse for driving while under the influence (DUI)?
The Emergency Matters
As with many legal questions, the answer is that it depends on the emergency and the circumstances of the case. Some people would argue that being late for a flight is an emergency, but the reality is that this is not a legally permissible reason to drive while under the influence. However, other emergencies may be valid excuses for DUIs.
Emergency Situation Defense
An emergency DUI defense may be possible in two separate emergency scenarios: medical emergencies and fleeing for one’s life.
In emergency scenarios, a DUI defense may be possible if a judge believes:
- Any reasonable person would have acted in the same manner;
- It was absolutely necessary to commit a crime to avoid greater harm.
Medical Emergency Scenarios
As driving while under the influence is seen as a life-threatening act, anything less than a life-threatening medical emergency would arguably not meet the standards required for medical emergency defense. Therefore, committing a DUI because someone’s leg is broken would likely not fall under an emergency scenario.
Additionally, any act that is not absolutely necessary would arguably not meet the standards required for a medical emergency defense. Therefore, if the intoxicated person could have called 911 to avoid having to drive, he or she could be found guilty of a DUI because driving was not absolutely necessary.
Fleeing for One’s Life
If someone is fleeing from harm, then a DUI defense may be possible. For example, an intoxicated person has the right to flee from an attacker, but only until they successfully getaway. If someone flees from an attacker, gets away, but continues to drive, they could be convicted of a DUI.
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