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Woman Lost License For Driving Drunk to Flee Abusive Husband

Two years ago, Jennifer Axelberg and her husband were having an argument inside a cabin located in Mora, Minn.

When the argument became physical, Axelberg (pictured with her lawyer) ran to her car to escape her allegedly drunk and abusive husband, who pounded on the windshield to the point where it started to crack.

Axelberg started the car and drove away to escape, but was soon pulled over by police and cited with drunk driving. She later pleaded guilty to careless driving and lost her license for six months.

According to the StarTribune, Axelberg’s case has now reached the Minnesota Supreme Court, which must decide if the state's drunk driving law can supercede the “necessity defense” law.

"Necessity defense" applies to cases in which what could have happened by obeying a law outweighed the harm caused by breaking the law.

“I’m fighting for others who might get into this situation,” said Axelberg, after Thursday’s hearing. “Getting behind the wheel was a bad choice. When you have no other choice, what are you left with?”

Earlier this year, the Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled against Axelberg, reported

Writing for the majority, Judge Randolph Peterson stated, "By driving while impaired, [Axelberg] created the very risk of physical injury to herself and to other highway users that the implied-consent statute is intended to prevent."

The lower court also ruled that Axelberg's defense is criminal-based and can't be used in a civil license-revocation court hearing.

However, that civil hearing imposed punitive punishment (suspending license), which is exactly what criminal courts often do.

Axelberg and her husband have entered therapy, given up alcohol and have reunited, but she is still fighting the case based on principle.

Sources: StarTribune and


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