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Jennifer Axelberg won't get license back after DWI to escape violent husband

Jennifer Axelberg and her attorney, Ryan M. Pacyga
Jennifer Axelberg and her attorney, Ryan M. Pacyga

-- Correction at bottom --

A year ago, we told you about Jennifer Axelberg, the 38-year-old woman who lost her driver's license after she got a DWI in May 2011 while fleeing her violent husband.

SEE ALSO: Minnesota Supreme Court rules you can legally drunk-drive Segways

Today, in a split decision, the Minnesota Court of Appeals affirmed the controversial decision to revoke her license.

In the minutes before she got behind the wheel drunk on that May 2011 night, Alexberg found herself between the ol' rock and hard place. From our June 2012 blog post:

In May 2011, Jennifer... was enjoying a weekend in Mora with her husband, Jason Axelberg. The couple went to a bar with friends and got a ride back to their cabin around 2 a.m. The Axelbergs got into an argument and Jason hit Jennifer in the head twice. He had her phone and blocked her from going back into their cabin so she turned around and went into the couple's car to escape.

Jason, 39, climbed onto the hood of the car and began smashing the windshield with his fist until it cracked. Scared, Jennifer put the keys into the ignition and drove to the nearest open business. Jason stayed on the hood while she backed out of the driveway.

Axelberg pulled up to Fish Lake resort about a mile away, her lawyer said. Police arrived shortly after and arrested Jason Axelberg for domestic assault and Jennifer Axelberg for driving while intoxicated [Her BAL was .18].

In his majority decision, Judge Randolph Peterson argued that "by driving while impaired, appellant created the very risk of physical injury to herself and to other highway users that the implied-consent statute is intended to prevent."

But the dissenting opinion, written by Judge Margaret H. Chutich, countered that Axelberg's case is an example of a "well-established common-law defense" providing "a necessary safe harbor for those unfortunate few caught in a Hobson's choice where 'obedience to the law would . . . endanger[] some higher value.'" (You can read the whole decision here.)

Axelberg won't get her license back, but as of last year, she still had her hubby. After the incident, the two entered therapy and gave up the booze.

CORRECTION -- An early version of the story misidentified the court that issued today's ruling.

h/t: MPR

-- Follow Aaron Rupar on Twitter at @atrupar. Got a tip? Drop him a line at arupar@citypages.com.


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