Was Naked Pastor Arrested For Drunk Driving in Michigan Sleep Driving?

How very odd it must have been for the police to learn that the man they had just arrested for indecent exposure and DUI was a Dearborn Pastor.  The news report indicates that the matter is still under investigation so few facts are known at this time.  Also, there is no attorney of record.

What is known is that the Pastor was very popular at the church where he worked.  The news indicates:

“He’s been just a fantastic pastor, an inspiring speaker. Obviously something very strange must have occurred,” said Ned Nikodem of Dearborn, a former vice chairman of the church’s Pastoral Council. “He has just a devout appreciation for the liturgy and scripture, and he can interpret it in ways that make it moving and meaningful.”

Furthermore, the Free Press article suggests:

“A knowledgeable city source told the Free Press that the Pastor was arrested early Friday about a block from the church on Michigan Avenue in Dearborn, and had a laptop computer with him in the vehicle. His blood-alcohol level was just over the limit at which someone can be convicted of drunken driving in Michigan, the person said.”

This odd pattern of facts fits cases where a person takes Zoloft/Zolpidem, goes to bed, and then wakes up in a hypnotic state and drinks alcohol and then drives. Known as “sleep driving,” these individuals can drink and drive without any conscious knowledge that they are or have done either.  The drug maker indicates for patient precautions:

  • you should know that some people who took zolpidem got out of bed and drove their cars, prepared and ate food, had sex, made phone calls, were sleep-walking, or were involved in other activities while not fully awake. After they woke up, these people were usually unable to remember what they had done. Call your doctor right away if you find out that you have been driving or doing anything else unusual while you were sleeping.

Thus, it seems plausible that this is exactly what happened for this otherwise well respected Pastor.  Sleep driving is a defense in Michigan because a person who is unconscious cannot commit the crime of drunk driving.  This is true despite the fact that drunk driving is a “specific intent” crime.

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Patrick T. Barone

Founding Partner and CEO at Barone Defense Firm
The Founding Partner and CEO of the Barone Defense Firm, Mr. Barone has written two books and 100s of articles on the subject of DUI defense and trial practice. He is an adjunct professor at Thomas M. Cooley Law School, where he teaches a cutting-edge class on the practice of DUI defense. He is a highly sought after speaker for bar association meetings and legal education seminars throughout the country. He is also on the Faculty of the National College for DUI Defense. And, because his colleagues consistently give him top reviews, Mr. Barone has an “AV” (highest) rating from Martindale-Hubbell, and since 2009 has been included in the highly selective US News & World Report’s America’s Best Lawyers while The Barone Defense Firm appears in their companion America’s Best Law Firms. He has been rated “Seriously Outstanding” by SuperLawyers, rated “Outstanding/10.0” by AVVO and has recently been appointed to the advisory board for the Michigan edition of Leading Lawyers Magazine.
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