Jennifer Axelberg won't get license back after DWI to escape violent husband

Categories: Law
axelbergnew.jpg
Jennifer Axelberg and her attorney, Ryan M. Pacyga
-- Correction at bottom --

A year ago, we told you about Jennifer Axelberg, the 38-year-old woman who lost her driver's license after she got a DWI in May 2011 while fleeing her violent husband.

SEE ALSO: Minnesota Supreme Court rules you can legally drunk-drive Segways

Today, in a split decision, the Minnesota Court of Appeals affirmed the controversial decision to revoke her license.

In the minutes before she got behind the wheel drunk on that May 2011 night, Alexberg found herself between the ol' rock and hard place. From our June 2012 blog post:
In May 2011, Jennifer... was enjoying a weekend in Mora with her husband, Jason Axelberg. The couple went to a bar with friends and got a ride back to their cabin around 2 a.m. The Axelbergs got into an argument and Jason hit Jennifer in the head twice. He had her phone and blocked her from going back into their cabin so she turned around and went into the couple's car to escape.

Jason, 39, climbed onto the hood of the car and began smashing the windshield with his fist until it cracked. Scared, Jennifer put the keys into the ignition and drove to the nearest open business. Jason stayed on the hood while she backed out of the driveway.

Axelberg pulled up to Fish Lake resort about a mile away, her lawyer said. Police arrived shortly after and arrested Jason Axelberg for domestic assault and Jennifer Axelberg for driving while intoxicated [Her BAL was .18].
In his majority decision, Judge Randolph Peterson argued that "by driving while impaired, appellant created the very risk of physical injury to herself and to other highway users that the implied-consent statute is intended to prevent."

But the dissenting opinion, written by Judge Margaret H. Chutich, countered that Axelberg's case is an example of a "well-established common-law defense" providing "a necessary safe harbor for those unfortunate few caught in a Hobson's choice where 'obedience to the law would . . . endanger[] some higher value.'" (You can read the whole decision here.)

Axelberg won't get her license back, but as of last year, she still had her hubby. After the incident, the two entered therapy and gave up the booze.

CORRECTION -- An early version of the story misidentified the court that issued today's ruling.

h/t: MPR

-- Follow Aaron Rupar on Twitter at @atrupar. Got a tip? Drop him a line at arupar@citypages.com.


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14 comments
Sheepy T. Sheep
Sheepy T. Sheep

I think she was right to drive the car, but it is also right that she lose her license. She was driving drunk. Actually, once she got in the car with the keys she was guilty of a DUI. If you are drunk and behind the wheel of a car with the keys, even if the keys are not in the ignition, you can be charged with a DUI. I think perhaps she should just be happy she is still alive, even though she stayed married to someone she thought was going to kill her.

Jason McCain
Jason McCain

I'm starting to think these stories are as real as the shows on TruTv.

DFinMN
DFinMN

The article says this was a Supreme Court decision.  The link, and the names of the judges, pretty strongly imply that this is a Court of Appeals decision.  Important difference.

MNjoe
MNjoe topcommenter

While I understand we don't want people to drive while intoxicated, this should have merited extenuating circumstances and should not be on her record.  At least there's a happy ending and they've given up the booze and went into therapy.

Tony Bones
Tony Bones

Now that I read it I realize Im totally in the right with my opinion. If your life is in danger then protect it at all costs no matter who or what is endangering it (Intoxicated or not). So go somewhere with the 1.2.3.'s haha

Susan Schlenker Ingvaldsen
Susan Schlenker Ingvaldsen

If you think she shouldn't have driven the car while he pounded his fist..what should she have done?

Tracy Marcotte Shaffer
Tracy Marcotte Shaffer

These laws were enacted long before President Obama or President Bush was in office.

Tony Bones
Tony Bones

^^ haha geez your one of "those" people. Be part of the solution, Not the problem.

Tony Bones
Tony Bones

lol nice observation but your obviously wrong. Bush and Obama have everything to do with it. Their administration/s sign off on all the rules of the Court which is a business. They are the biggest terrorists known to mankind in over a decade. You'd have to be pretty blind to not notice by now. I didn't read the article but the opening statement does not look good to anyone in their right mind. If someone is trying to take my life or harm my body I will do whatever it takes to stop it. Again I didn't read the actual write up. I was only going off of the Miss leading opening post. Our legal system is going down the drain do to lack of people power. The people just sit and watch them terrorists take every freedom we have left. smh

Tony Bones
Tony Bones

wow. what a messed up system. first they try to take the guns so you can't protect yourself/family from killers and domestic terrorists. Now they don't let you defend yourself from violent attackers when your life is in danger? Obama & Bush are trash!

atrupar
atrupar moderator

@DFinMN Thank you. I've fixed and added correction.

MNjoe
MNjoe topcommenter

@Tony Bones your obviously wrong  Miss leading  Wow! How can we take someone seriously who has so little command of the English language? Maybe you could look for a remedial course online.

MNjoe
MNjoe topcommenter

@Tony Bones Yeah, it's Obama's fault.Who's gun(s) did "they" take, by the way? Have you always been so paranoid or this a recent medical phenomenon?

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