Court upholds DWI conviction for man in parked car

Minnesota law says that anyone who is in “physical control” of a vehicle while drunk is guilty of a crime.

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) âÄî The Minnesota Court of Appeals upheld the drunken driving conviction of a Polk County man who was arrested while behind the wheel of a parked car. The three-judge panel of the court said Tuesday that it was didn’t matter that Daryl Fleck “may not have intended to drive when he went to the vehicle.” Polk County court records indicate Fleck is now 55 and lived in East Grand Forks when he was arrested in 2007. The ruling said a concerned resident called police one night and officers found Fleck asleep behind the wheel of his car in his parking space at the apartment building where he lived. It was 11:30 p.m. and Fleck was “obviously intoxicated” âÄî tests would later show his blood alcohol level was just over twice the legal limit to drive âÄî and three open beer cans were under a blanket on the passenger’s seat. The vehicle’s keys were on the center console between the seats, although there was no evidence that Fleck had recently driven the vehicle, according to the court. Fleck first told officers that he went to the car to retrieve something, but later told them he had gone out to just sit in the car. Police arrested him. He was charged on June 13, 2007, and convicted in October on counts of first-degree driving while impaired and of being in physical control of a motor vehicle with an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more. Because he had prior offenses, he received a four-year sentence. Minnesota law says that anyone who is in “physical control” of a vehicle while drunk is guilty of a crime, according to the court. The court ruled, “Physical control is meant to cover situations where an inebriated person is found in a parked vehicle that, without too much difficulty, might again be started and become a source of danger to the operator, to others, or to property.” Calls to Polk County Attorney Gregory Widseth and Flek’s public defender, G. Tony Atwal, were not immediately returned Tuesday.