Death by Drunk Driving
jim lives in Detroit, MI. One day, Jim is at a local bar. He has had a few drinks, but he is not
intoxicated. As he is about to leave, he asks the bartender for a cup of water. The bartender by
mistake, hands him a 6 ounce cup to 40% Vodka instead. Jim gulps down the glass quickly. He
notices the strength of the liquid, but figures that it must be his imagination; as he clearly asked for
water. Jim gets in his car and drives home.
Unfortunately for him, the vodka goes straight to his head and he becomes intoxicated. Because of
Jim’s inoxication, he loses control of his car, which jumps a curb and kills 2 people. Jim is arrested
and put on trial under Michigan’s “causing death while operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated”
statute, which carries a penalty of up to 15 years in prison.
Jim wants to argue that he did not knowingly drink enough to make him drunk. However, the
judge instructs the jury that whether Jim knew that the liquid that he drank was vodka was
irrelevant because driving while intoxicated is a strict liability offense.
Jim’s attorney claims that this would be unconstitutional because it would not be fair to give somebody such a severe punishment without proving any mensrea on Jim’s part.
Who is correct? Please use appropriate case law to support your answer. An IRAC-based essay is
appropriate for this assignment.
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