State v. SommersAnnotate this Case
After a jury trial, Defendant was found guilty of driving or in actual physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. During trial, the State presented no evidence that Defendant drove while under the influence but rather presented evidence intended to prove Defendant was in “actual physical control” of his truck when a police officer found him passed out at the wheel. Defendant appealed, arguing that because his vehicle was disabled in such a way that he could not move it, he could not be in actual physical control of his vehicle for purposes of the DUI statute. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the district court improperly instructed the jury: “It does not matter that the vehicle is incapable of movement”; and (2) the instruction prejudicially affected Defendant’s substantial rights by preventing the jury from considering a valid defense.