Legally Weird - The FindLaw Legal Curiosities Blog

Man Uses Drunk-to-Stay-Warm Defense to Beat DUI Case

There are lots of reasons people get drunk. Sometimes it's an accident, sometimes it is on purpose, and sometimes it is to stay warm while waiting for help.

That last reason was good enough to get a Missouri man a not guilty verdict at his DUI trial.

Thomas Drummond was driving on an unfamiliar road in Southeast Missouri when he missed a turn, lost control of his car on the ice, and ended up in a ditch.

With a dying cell phone, he texted his girlfriend for help but forgot to tell her where he was. Ooops. It took emergency workers two hours to find Drummond's location, and to kill time and stay warm he began to drink a bottle of brandy he had bought for a party.

Drummond was charged with DUI and at trial his drunk to stay warm defense was just that simple: he was not drunk while driving, only while waiting for help. And the jury believed him and found him not guilty. "This is something that doesn't happen all the time. It's an odd set of circumstances," Drummond's attorney Steven Wilson told Reuters.

Odd set of circumstances is an understatement. But it's a believable set of circumstances nonetheless. As in every state, drinking and driving is a crime that has some serious consequences. Facing a year in jail and a $1,000 fine, Drummond's drinking timing was absolutely critical to his DUI defense.

The issue was not whether or not he was drunk (he was), but when exactly he began hitting the brandy.

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