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Woman Gets New DUI Trial, Can Argue She Had to Drive to Avoid Bar Fight

Posted Nov 13, 2009 7:17 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Reversing the drunken-driving conviction of a woman who wasn't allowed to argue at trial that she had to flee a dangerous bar fight, the Montana Supreme Court has ruled that Lisa Marie Leprowse will get a new trial to present her defense.

A Missoula District Court judge had agreed with the prosecution that Leprowse could have simply called 911 for help and waited in her car, instead of driving 14 miles, recounts the Associated Press.

But “the affirmative defense of compulsion is a well-recognized basis for finding a person not guilty of a charged offense, even though her conduct appears to fall within the definition of that offense,” writes Supreme Court Justice Patricia Cotter in the unanimous opinion.

"Whether Leprowse was actually compelled to drive the distance of 14 miles, and ostensibly commit a DUI, is at its essence a question of fact based on circumstances,” and hence a matter for the jury to decide, the court held.

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