Could 'sleep driving' become a common defense?

Some prosecutors and advocates against drunk driving worry a case in Oregon could affect future cases.

They are concerned "sleep driving" will become a common defense.

Back in 2008, James Robert Newman was given a field sobriety test.

His blood alcohol content was nearly twice the legal limit.

He went to jail, then to court, where things got interesting.

Newman's attorney argued that he was sleep-driving.

The judge refused to hear it and convicted the Portland man, but now the Oregon Supreme Court is tossing out that conviction.

"Every criminal defense lawyer must be salivating over this as a potential defense," said Bruce McCain, an attorney and former law enforcement officer.

He's baffled by the Supreme Court ruling.

"The Supreme Court said that this defendant and anyone in the future can put on evidence showing their criminal conduct was done involuntarily and unconsciously," he said.

In James Newman's case, he has a history of sleep walking, which explains the sleep-driving defense.

"This endangers the general public and puts us back to the early 80's in Oregon law. It's time people are held accountable and not use excuses for their behavior."

Excuses or not, James Newman's case is headed back to the circuit court.

McCain says it begs the question: "Where does it stop? Sleep rape? Sleep robbery? Sleep murder?"
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