Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Man Acquitted of DUI Because he was Asleep at the Time

An unnamed Swedish man was recently acquitted of by a Gothenburg court of appeals for DUI because he convinced the judge that he was asleep at the time that he was pulled over. Also he’s not the first Swede to get away with this unusual defense.

The defendant reportedly had a history of drunk driving and two prior DUI convictions when police found him driving his truck erratically about 650 yards from his home. He had a blood alcohol level of .254, above Sweden’s legal limit of .2, and was arrested and charged with aggravated drunk driving. He claims, and his brother and girlfriend both testified, that he has a habit of sleepwalking, and that he was sleep driving at the time of his arrest.

At the time, the court didn’t buy the man’s story and he was sentenced to two months in jail for DUI.

Last week, however, a judge heard his appeal and concluded that even though ”It can of course be questioned whether it is even possible to be asleep while driving a truck in the circumstances which he claims to have done,”  there was enough room for reasonable doubt to overturn the previous conviction.

Shockingly, this is not the first time the I was smashed, but I was asleep defense has worked to beat a DUI conviction in Sweden. In 2009, a 51-year-old man was arrested for DUI after he drove his car into a ditch. Police found that he had a blood alcohol level of  1.85 — which BTW, is nearly ten times the legal limit.

According to court documents, ”He fell asleep around 9 p.m. After that, he doesn’t remember anything except that his next memory is that he woke up in the ditch outside his car together with a male named Magnus.” The man explained that he was just on his way to buy some Swedish snuff called snus, that he wasn’t drunk and that he remembered the accident. The man later changed his story saying he didn’t remember anything, not even the initial police interview.

During the trial the man’s doctor testified that the defendant could have been sleepwalking. According to the doctor, the defendant exhibited behavior consistent with sleepwalking. He explained that, “Somnambulism is a well known medical phenomenon where a person can carry out complex behaviors like walking, eating and making food, driving a car and having sex without actually being awake or aware of what’s happening.”

The court threw out the charges against the man concluding that, “It cannot be shown beyond a reasonable doubt” that the man “was aware of his actions when he drove his car,” which is weird when you think about it, because it cannot be shown beyond a reasonable doubt that anyone is really much aware of anything when their blood alcohol level ten is times the legal limit. That’s why it’s illegal to drink and drive. In Sweden, however, it seems that when you combine the two — it’s all good.

More DUI at

Automatism: The Sleepwalker’s Defense

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