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Opening Arguments

A reason to drink at home

The public drunkenness arrest of the Colt's punter has generated enough publicity that people may be learning some things about public intoxication law they didn't know before:

It's not an uncommon scene for officers, but deciding who is simply intoxicated, and who presents a public problem can be tricky. 

According to Indiana State Code, police can cite anyone for public intoxication if they are drunk in a setting in plain view of the public.

The laws on drunken driving are pretty precise: You're either below, at or above whatever the state's allowed BAC is. But for public intoxication, there is no objective standard (underline that in bold, all you would-be party animals). The legal challenges that come up usually involve the technical question of whether the drunk was on "private" or "public" property. Whether the miscreant in question has had too much to drink or is causing a problem because of that is pretty much left up to the arresting officer.

And though officers are supposed to issue a citation to anyone they think is "drunk in public," they do have discretion when it comes to putting someone in jail or taking him to his home or the home of relative or other "responsibile person." So there's another subjective judgment. This area is so loose when it comes to discretionary actions that it could be good (people getting cut some slack by a sympatheitc officer) or bad (using the law to get or harass someone just because it's


tim zank
Thu, 10/21/2010 - 12:59pm

Seems to me the next logical step would be for the Indiana legislature to come to the rescue again much like they helped save the youth our state by requiring photo i.d.'s of 80 year olds and require everyone seen or heard in public to simply prove they are NOT intoxicated.

Appears all the rage in Indiana these days to simply assume, punish and inconvenience ALL hoosiers because our lawmakers know damn well sooner or later SOME hoosier is going to be guilty.

It'll make things more "fair" right?

William Larsen
Thu, 10/21/2010 - 1:24pm

When I heard this story on the news last night, I could only think that they were arrested for "disorderly conduct." But I was wrong. I have met happy drunks, sad drunks and down right mean drunks.

When I was in the Navy in San Diego, I was the designated driver. I had a 1970 Catalina station wagon, recently "blown up", was unable to swim or spend time in the sun light for two years and trying to regain the use of my limbs was a full time job. So I went to the pool hall with "M" division and made sure they got back to the ship. They were totally intoxicated with one person actually tried to throw me over the side of the ship on the fan tail. Luckily another much larger sailor came to my rescue.

I guess the purpose of a designated driver is no longer enough to keep a person from being arrested if they are past the limit.