i have read about people in arizona being arrested for drunk driving for just being drunk in a parked car on private property with the motor running. at least the cops cant shake people down for this in wisconson any more.
arrested for drunk driving just for sitting
MADISON, Wis. The state Supreme Court says a woman sitting in the driver's seat of a running parked car after drinking shouldn't be prosecuted for drunken driving.
The court ruled today there's no evidence Kristin Haanstad had operated the car, which would be a requirement for a conviction.
Court documents say Haanstad had been drinking in 2003 when she and two companions were sitting in a parked car in the Dane County village of Cross Plains.
Haanstad slid over to the driver's seat after the two others got out.
A police officer approached the car and asked Haanstad to take a field sobriety field test even though she said she had not been driving the car. He placed her under arrest after she failed the test.
A circuit court judge found her not guilty, ruling she had not physically operated the car and could not be convicted of drunk driving. An appeals court reversed, and the case ended up before the Supreme Court.
Court: Police can't arrest woman in parked car for drunk drivingJR ROSSAssociated PressMADISON, Wis. - Simply sitting drunk in the driver's seat of a parked car is not enough to warrant a drunken driving conviction, the Supreme Court ruled Tuesday.
Instead, one has to actually operate the car - anything from turning on the ignition to actually driving it - to violate Wisconsin's prohibition against operating while intoxicated, an unanimous court ruled.
The court ruled in favor of Kristin Haanstad, who had argued she should not be convicted of drunken driving after an officer found her behind the wheel of a running car. She was sitting with her feet and body facing the passenger seat as she spoke to someone else in the car.
"She did not turn on or turn off the ignition of the car. She did not touch the ignition key, the gas pedal, the brake or any other controls of the vehicle," Justice Louis Butler wrote for the court.
Haanstad met Timothy Satterthwaite at a bar in 2003 for drinks. Later that night, she gave Satterthwaite the keys to her car, and he drove the pair and Justin Cushman to a park where he had left his truck.
Haanstad slid over to the driver's seat while Satterthwaite helped Cushman into the truck. Satterthwaite then got back into the car - which was still running - to speak with Haanstad, who had her body and feet facing the passenger seat. A police officer pulled up less than 10 minutes later. Cushman told the police officer that Satterthwaite was going to drive him home after speaking with Haanstad. The officer then asked Haanstad to perform field sobriety tests, which she failed, and she was cited for two operating while intoxicated offenses.
A circuit court judge dismissed the citations, ruling she had not physically operated the car and could not be convicted of drunken driving. An appeals court reversed the circuit judge's dismissal, and the case ended up before the Supreme Court.
Haanstad's attorney, John M. Gerlach, stressed the police can still arrest someone who is sitting drunk behind the wheel of a car even if it is not moving.
The court has previously ruled officers properly arrested a man who was found sleeping alone behind the wheel of his pickup, which he had parked on the side of a road. In that case, there was sufficient evidence the man was intoxicated and driving the truck before he pulled over.
The difference in this case is Haanstad had not driven the car and had not done anything to suggest she was operating it.
"My client never started it, never kept it operating," Gerlach said.
Court: Not Drunk Driving If Just Sitting In Car
(AP) MADISON Simply sitting drunk in the driver's seat of a parked running car does not constitute drunken driving, the Supreme Court ruled Tuesday.
The court ruled there has to be evidence someone operated a vehicle to be convicted of drunken driving under Wisconsin law.
Kristin Haanstad had been drinking in 2003 when she and two companions parked their vehicle in a Dane County park, according to court records.
Haanstad was in the passenger seat of a running car but slid over to the driver's seat while her two companions left the vehicle. She sat in the driver's seat with her body and feet facing the passenger seat and eventually started talking to one of the men about their relationship after he got back into the car.
A police officer approached the vehicle and asked Haanstad to take a sobriety field test, even though she said she had not been driving. He placed her under arrest after she failed the test, according to court records.
A circuit court judge found her not guilty, ruling she had not physically operated the car and could not be convicted of drunken driving. An appeals court reversed the decision, and the case ended up before the Supreme Court.