Florida man says sick cat excuses DUI, court says otherwise
TALLAHASSEE - No, taking your friend’s sick cat to the veterinarian does not get you off the hook for driving drunk.
That’s the message a state appeals court delivered to Hillsborough County’s Christopher Brooks Wednesday. He was arrested in 2010 for driving while intoxicated.
Brooks had been transporting his friend who owned a very sick cat to a veterinary clinic the night of his arrest. At his trial, he and his lawyers contended that should acquit his DUI.
Legally, this is called a defense of necessity. The defense, the court ruled, allows someone to drive drunk if the person reasonably believes it necessary “to avoid an imminent threat of danger or serious bodily injury to himself or others.”
“We do not interpret the phrase ‘or others’ as applying to animals,” ruled a three-judge panel of the 2nd District Court of Appeals.
A necessity defense only applies to drunk driving if there are no “reasonable alternatives…to address a claimed emergency,” according to the ruling.
The court did say that Brooks’ “wish to obtain treatment for the ailing feline is understandable.” When police pulled Brooks over, the cat’s owner informed the officer his cat was “fixin’ to die,” which it did a few hours later.
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