Originally Posted by lawyerdad
I don't disagree on a very general level but (and I suspect you get this and are just trying to respond to the question on a broad policy level than a narrow legal), but there's a fundamental difference between crimes that have a serious mens rea
(intent, more or less) requirement and those that don't.
I believe DUI is a strict liability offense in most jurisdictions. That is, it doesn't matter what your intentions were or whether you knew what you were doing. If you were so drunk that you thought you were turning on the television when you were actually starting the car, you're still guilty.
I agree that you probably shouldn't have tried to strictly parse the comment (I wasn't offering an example, after all; I was posing a rhetorical question expressly premised on a proposition). But, regardless, I think you're wrong about the DUI example. A strict liability offense is called that because has a relaxed mens rea requirement for one or more of the elements of the offense. DUI has at least two elements -- .08 or above BAC, and operating a motor vehicle. It's pretty much universal that there's strict liability as to the BAC, but I'm not aware of any cases holding the same for the other element. I would expect (setting aside the special issues about voluntarily intoxication) that not knowing you were operating a motor vehicle would be a defense to DUI. Imagine if, unbeknownst to you, your remote really did somehow operate a car. Are you guilty of DUI for watching TV drunk? Would any court let that conviction stand?
If you're so drunk that you mistakenly think the person in your bed is actually your inflatable sex doll, you're not guilty of rape (although you're probably violating your university's code of conduct).
This could be a harder question than you seem to present it as. I don't want to try to speak to every court in the land, but many states consider rape to have some degree of strict liability. For example, some states won't allow the defense of apparent or mistaken consent -- as absurd as it sounds, if she says yes but really meant no, you can argue she really meant yes, but you can't argue you're not guilty because you reasonably relied on her saying yes.
Maybe that illustration is incompatible with what I'd implied about courts' reasonableness above...