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Man fleeing two angry women found not guilty of drunk driving

By Agence France-Presse Published Feb 13, 2023 10:16 am

A California man was found not guilty of drunk driving after arguing he needed to escape from "two angry women"—his wife and the woman she had caught him with.

Thomas Patrick Houston told a court his spouse had found him in the act with his paramour.

Houston, 60, said driving off—despite being over the legal alcohol limit in California—was necessary to avoid physical danger, and therefore permissible under the law.

A jury in Ukiah, in the state's northern wine-growing region, sided with the man during his four-day trial earlier this month, and found him not guilty of driving a vehicle under the influence of alcohol.

"Testimony was presented that Mr. Houston had been caught in flagrante delicto by his wife and his driving was necessary to allow him to escape two angry women," Mendocino County District Attorney said on its Facebook page.

"While the prosecution argued the law of necessity is not intended and has never been applied to such a factual situation, the trial judge nevertheless allowed the jury to consider the necessity defense as possibly justifying the under-the-influence driving."

The district attorney's office said the necessity defense has a number of elements that must be proved.

These include that the defendant "acted in an emergency to prevent a significant bodily harm or evil to himself or someone else."

And that "he had no adequate legal alternative." (AFP)