I love stories like this. I personally think that DUI laws and enforcement is way to strict and draconian. So to see a guy get off on such a funny technicality is great. The only downside, because he escaped the DUI, now they are trumping up other charges (failure to submit to a sobriety test). Good Luck Buddy.
SARASOTA COUNTY - Michael J. Vargo admitted at his DUI trial that he had been too drunk to drive as he sat behind the wheel of his truck in February.
Admittedly, he was too drunk to even walk properly.
When sheriff's deputies approached him, Vargo was eating a salad and had a cold, half-empty Icehouse beer in the front cup holder. When he got out of the truck he had to lean on it for support.
In some ways, it seems like a clear-cut drunken driving case, and yet the jury acquitted Vargo of the drunk driving charge in a matter of minutes last week.
They did so due to one key detail: the truck was broken down and unable to even start.
"It is not against the law to sit in an inoperable car to eat a salad drunk," said Vargo's defense attorney, Robert Harrison.
The deputy arrested Vargo, 45, under a little-known element in Florida drunken driving laws that say someone can be guilty of driving under the influence even if the officer never saw them drive.
Prosecutors just need to prove someone had "physical control of the car," that is, had the capability to drive the car to or from that spot. That usually comes into play when an officer shows up at a DUI crash and the drivers have already exited the cars.
But that also requires prosecutors to prove the vehicle was operable at the time.
At the trial, Vargo and a friend told the jury that the truck had been stuck in a Walmart parking lot in Englewood since the starter gave out about 12 hours earlier.
On Feb. 28, just after 1 a.m., a Sarasota County Sheriff's Office deputy investigated when he saw Vargo sitting in the truck for at least 20 minutes.