Ordinarily, if you excessively speed, run red lights and park in a red zone, you could be charged with reckless driving, but there are, of course, exceptions. If you were experiencing a medical emergency, this can serve as a defense for reckless driving or even drunk driving. Here’s what you should know about the defense that might be used by your Oceanside DUI defense lawyer.
Defining a Medical Emergency Situation
It shouldn’t be surprising that the law doesn’t allow someone to drive drunk simply because they have a cold or excuse someone from driving 80 miles an hour through a red light if they are running late for a doctor’s appointment. However, if a parent discovers their infant has stopped breathing and they cannot call an ambulance because their phone line was disconnected, the law allows for them to respond to a sudden, imminent emergency situation.
In order to use the emergency situation defense, a drunk driving defense attorney in Oceanside would have to prove that a reasonable person would have acted in the same manner. This is also called the Necessity Defense. If it is absolutely necessary to commit a crime to avoid a greater harm then it may be a complete defense. This requires the harm to be immediate and no other reasonable options are available.
For example, if a woman believes her husband is having a heart attack while they are on a road trip and their cell phones both have dead batteries, she could legally drive in what would normally be a reckless manner to take him to a hospital. Even if he ended up being ok, if his symptoms were enough to have convinced an ordinary person that he was having a heart attack and needed emergency care, she could be excused for her reckless driving. On the other hand, if he was just complaining about heartburn, this would not meet the standard as an average person would not believe it was an emergency situation.
While most cases using this defense involve medical emergencies, other emergencies qualify as well, but only if a person believes the life or that of another person is at risk. For example, while a fire at your home while your children are home is an emergency, your driving there will not help you save their lives, so you would likely not be able to successfully argue the emergency defense for drunk driving home in this case.
On the other hand, if you were drinking at someone’s house and they started chasing you with a knife, you could drive to escape the person, but even then, only enough to get away. If you lived across town, you could drive somewhere far enough they could not catch you, but not all the way back to your home. If you aren’t sure whether your situation would constitute an emergency, discuss the case with your Oceanside DUI attorney before speaking with the police.
Call a DUI Lawyer in Oceanside
If you have any questions about the emergency defense for driving crimes, please call (760) 643-4050 or (858) 486-3024 to schedule a free initial consultation with Peter M. Liss.
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