Minn. Supreme Court Rules Domestic Violence Not an Excuse to Drive Drunk

Updated: 05/21/2014 10:20 PM
Created: 05/21/2014 4:54 PM
By: Scott Theisen

Domestic violence or sexual assault is no excuse to drive drunk in Minnesota. That's the message the Minnesota Supreme Court sent Wednesday in a ruling on a domestic abuse victim who got a DWI.

Jennifer Axelberg and her husband had been drinking and arguing in Kanabec County in May of 2011. She ran to her car for safety; when her husband shattered the windshield she drove for help just a mile away.

Police arrested both of them: Jason for domestic assault and Jennifer for driving drunk.

Her attorneys argued that victims should be able to leave a violent situation even if drinking and not be charged with a DWI.

"Victims of domestic abuse ought to have a remedy under the law, I think that any time the law says absolutely not is not very wise. And that there should always be room for extreme circumstances," said Attorney Ryan Pacyga.

The court was divided four to three on the ruling. The majority disagreed with Axelberg's attorneys, saying the law is written such that it does not allow for extenuating circumstances.

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