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City of Minneapolis v. Altimus

Minnesota Supreme Court
238 N.W.2d 851 (1976)


While driving his vehicle, Robert Altimus (defendant) made an illegal turn and crashed into an oncoming garbage truck. Altimus immediately drove away. Shortly thereafter, police officers apprehended Altimus and transported him by ambulance to a nearby hospital. Upon arrival at the hospital, Altimus ran away but was arrested after physically assaulting a police officer. Altimus was charged with careless driving, hit and run as to an attended vehicle, and simple assault. At trial, Altimus presented evidence that he did not remember the events of the night in question because he had been taking Valium as prescribed by his physician for a back problem. Additionally, Altimus’ doctor provided expert testimony that confusion and fatigue, among others side effects often resulted from ingestion of Valium. At the close of the evidence, Altimus requested a jury instruction on the defense of involuntary intoxication. The trial court refused. Instead, the trial judge instructed jury that intoxication was a defense to the charge of assault only if it rendered Altimus unable to formulate the specific intent to inflict bodily harm on the person of another. Altimus was convicted of careless driving and hit and run of an attended vehicle and not guilty of simple assault. Altimus appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Kelly, J.)

Concurrence (Rogosheske, J.)

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